You may be wondering why I have named my podcast the conscious family. So lets break it down a little bit. Conscious means having some kind of awareness. Many of us go through parenting pretty much on autopilot, unaware. We are doing the things that are parents pretty much did unless it was the few things we swore never to do that they did. Hence we may find ourselves many times saying WOW I sound like my mother!!! or Yikes I’m turning into my Mother!
Becoming a Conscious, Intentional, Mindful Family. Requires effort. Denay Barahona goes over 3 characteristics of being intentional which I loved and went over in my podcast. Go check out her blog and podcast at simplefamilies.com, she has some awesome content. The 3 Characteristics that she describes to becoming a intentional parent are: Reflection, Education and Strategy. As soon as she said these things I was like YES YES YES!!!! It just strung some positive vibes in my body so I decided to do a follow up podcast of how I apply these three aspects in my family.
Reflection: Always asking yourself where can I improve? What can I do better? Why do I think this way about this? Why do I do this in this particular way? Reflecting is a wonderful skill to develop. My husband and I do it regularly every week. We set a time aside to look at what went well during the week what didn’t and where we can improve.
Education: If you are a regular reader of my stuff this is definitely the ongoing learning that is not just done in school but forever and ever. Its the desire and thirst for knowledge. Whenever a problem arises I love to research. We are way blessed and have a million different resources at our fingertips. Lets use it and learn what we can and be empowered by education with all our choices.
Strategy: I called this implementation. There is no point in having a ton of knowledge on a certain subject and there is no application involved. In order to really learn something application is needed to have it embedded in you especially when it comes to learning new parenting strategies.
We need to be conscious about what we do with our families because we are always teaching and influencing them all of the time, whether we know it or not. Lets take some time to reflect on our parenting and family practices and see where we can improve on.
You are amazing, beautiful and awesome
Lets face it, this is just a difficult time to keep the romance alive. You just had a baby, you are still feeling bloated, and your bodies trying to adapt to the hormones and everything post pregnancy whether you are breastfeeding or recovering from a c-section. But all reasons aside we can’t just abandon this aspect of our marriage completely. If anything this is such an important time for you and your spouse as he may be feeling more neglected with the new baby in the house. The truth is if you are not looking after yourself and your marriage first, this will reflect in your parenting. So in order to be a better mother be a better wife first. ( p.s this photo was taken literally a day after we had our 2nd baby at the hospital! first official date night after baby and she was in the nursery just down the hall hahaha)
- Try and have the baby sleep in their own crib or bassinet. This is hard at first especially if you are nursing and fall asleep during it (like me) But if you prefer to co-sleep use one of those attachments to your bed so that you and your spouse still have your own space.
2. Self Care! This is something I always neglect but have come to see the importance in lately. Even just waking up earlier to have a nice shower, even putting on makeup and doing your hair can do wonders for you. For me I just enjoy going for a walk in the morning. It is so easy to get caught up in the drab of being in your p.js all day long. At least dressing up will make you look more cuddly even if you don’t really feel like it.
3. Communicate with your spouse. Help him understand that time together will be less but when you do get time together ensure that it is QUALITY TIME! Talk and plan what things you can do as soon as you get that time alone.
4. Set specific Date nights. Right now we can’t really leave our little one with anyone so we always set at least 10mins aside each day to talk with each other. It really has become my favorite part of the day, even though I get sick of his work stories I just enjoy where our conversations end up. While the kids are asleep pop out the ice cream or the goodies and have a date night in the kitchen or on the deck outside. Creativity is KEY!!
Would love to know your ideas and thoughts. Email me or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” -Gandhi
You may wondering what is all this self awareness stuff got to do with relationships and marriage.Being self-aware in marriage or any relationship is an amazing skill that will allow you to communicate effectively and truly understand your environment and be able to take control of your own emotions. I guess for me my understanding is that if you don’t know yourself how are you able to get to know and love anybody else. Love comes from within, we need to give love to receive love and therefore being aware of who we are can help us develop love for ourselves. (Wow that’s some deep stuff right there haha) But for real though. All healthy relationships come from a deep understanding of self.
Self-awareness (sometimes also referred to as self-knowledge or introspection) is about understanding your own needs, desires, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit your needs.
We are literally like a onion we have sooo many layers to us to uncover and understand. I seriously find that the more I go on in life and continue to self reflect the more I connect the dots to why I do and think the way I do.
- Understanding our emotions—what we’re feeling and what triggered it—so we can effectively work through and transform our emotional responses (instead of using them to justify unhealthy choices)
- Recognizing our destructive thought patterns so we can redirect them
- Tuning into what’s going on in our bodies so we can learn from it and access our intuition
- Noticing our behavioral patterns and habits so that we can make adjustments to change negative ones
- Understanding our beliefs, assumptions, and expectations, and how they influence what we choose to do
- Accepting that we are responsible for our actions—even if we developed certain patterns in response to events from our past
Here are some activities that you can practice and implement into your life to help be self reflect.
- List You: What are your beliefs? What do you stand for? What are your likes and dislikes? What are fears? What are your goals? What do you believe your relationships should look like? What qualities do you have to contribute to your relationship?
- Question your thoughts or beliefs. Look at what you have written about yourself and now its time think objectively. For example ask yourself why do I prefer to demand that my partner come straight home after work? Why do I want him always with me? Why do I get mad when he wants to spend time with his friends? Ask yourself these questions whenever those times come up when you are frustrated at something your partner does. If you can’t in the moment then do it when you have calmed down. Is your belief legit or where does it stem from. You can dig deeper and deeper and find the root cause of your beliefs. It may be helpful to do this with a trusted friend, coach or therapist to guide you in the right direction.
- Keep a Journal: Not just what you ate for breakfast but include feelings and anything that will help you understand and reflect on yourself more. Like including what you ate for breakfast or why you didn’t how you were feeling in the moment can help when you go back to read and reflect. Writing a journal helps you identify patterns a lot more easier. So being consistency is key for this exercise. Journals are most effective if done over a long period of time from 6months-12months will give you some good insight on yourself.
- Evaluate: Now you have seen some of your qualities and recorded your behaviour in your journal. Set some goals on what you want to work on to improve your marriage or relationships. You can always keep on track coming back to your goals on a weekly basis to see how you are changing your behaviour. Some people need this written down others can just work on one at a time so it’s easier to keep track of. Remember you will not change overnight so keep working on it. Make your goals easy to monitor so you don’t feel too overwhelmed and give up.
Some of these topics may be hard to bring up especially during dating. But create an environment where you can discuss this openly and honestly. The more open and honest you are with these topics before marriage or serious courtship the less headache and heartache it will be down the road. Keep in mind that this is not the end all be all, opinions and views can change over years of being together.
Childhood Upbringing/Previous Relationships
How did your parents handle arguments? How did you communicate with your parents? How long before issues were solved in your home? What would you do different? What did you love about your upbringing? What were some difficulties in your previous relationships? Whether you realize it or not your upbringing has a massive part to play in how your relationship will unravel. Talking about what your families did and what you liked and didn’t like will help you and your partner know why you do the things you do and what things you want to change. Previous relationships also play a part if you came from a emotionally abusive relationship you may bring these emotions to your current relationship which may hinder your progress together. Talk and discuss ways you can start fresh with each other and not let the past affect what the bright future is able to hold for you both.
Faith and Core Value Beliefs
What church or congregation you want you family to go to? What values you want to instill in your children? What traditions you will be bringing into the home? What morals you wish your children to learn? Are you okay with your spouse having a different faith to you? With different cultures talk about the differences in beliefs and ways of thinking. Find a good mix between the two but don’t feel like all has to be set in stone right now.
Previous or Current Addictions
Have you viewed pornography? How often? To what extent? Have you been addicted to any drugs or alcohol or any form of medications? Knowing this may be able to help you understand your spouse a little better. If they seem to be going back down that track you have already discussed it previously and your partner may be able to help and give support during these times.
Do you have debt? How much debt do you have? How much are you willing to spend on a car? or shoes? How well do you save? Are we going to have a split or separate bank account? Talking about your finances in the beginning can save a lot of assumptions and headache down the line. Be open about where you are at financially so you can be there for each other and keep each other accountable as you both set goals together.
Autonomy & Boundaries
Do you like your independance? Do you enjoy doing hobbies alone or together? How often do you want to do your own thing? How often do you want to do things with your friends? Do you want a shared FB account? Do we share passwords for all email and social media accounts? Do we have a date night once a week? Do we go to our in laws one every other week?
Do you see yourself having children? What if we can’t have children? Are you wanting or open to adoption? Who will be the stay home parent? Will you both be working? What kind of day care or education do you want your children to have? Will you be paying for college tuition? Children are a massive part of marriage and family life so let’s iron out some of the bigger topics.
Where are you living? What are you doing? Where do you see yourself? How do you vacation? What kind of home are you living in? What are things you want to accomplish? What things can you not live without? What things are you willing to compromise on? What things can you not stand in your current life?
Discuss these topics on a date night? Go through one each day take it slow and go into as much detail as you like. This exercise may take several weeks but as you do enjoy learning about each other and your views on life marriage and family.
Depending on how long you have been married you are probably so sick of trying to get your husband to remember anniversaries, birthdays, mother’s day or even just to be spontaneous and bring you flowers one day. When I first married my husband he was not very affectionate in those ways. When we took the love language test his top 3 were, words of affirmation, time and physical affection while mine was time and acts of service he started to realise what I loved and started to direct his actions towards my love language. But it didn’t happen immediately and I couldn’t force him anything against his will no matter how much I wanted to. The progress was slow and it took effort from the both of us, it required patience and understanding from each of us.
Evaluate Media Intake
How often are you watching movies and shows that show all the fairy tale relationships. While you and your spouse are trying to improve your relationship it would be helpful to decrease your intake of this type of media so you are not holding up crazy fairy tale expectations of your spouse. Even with social media when you see all your friends constantly posting all the fun things that their spouses do for them and there you are getting even more annoyed that your spouse isn’t doing the same thing! Until you are comfortable with where you are in your marriage have a media diet and limit your intake, it will be better for both your marriage and plus you will have more time for each other!!!!
This is not a nagging session and finding fault session this is a time to to loving tell your spouse how you feel. Begin the conversation by saying things that you love that your spouse does. Show him that there are awesome things that they do! Then bring up that which are your personal concerns. If you set a time to regularly meet together to talk about deep relationship topics this may it be easier to express your concerns so your spouse knows this is something that you are both working on together and that there is consistent accountability on a weekly or monthly basis.
Give Credit for the Small
Give credit at every opportunity you can. We all work this way when somebody recognizes a good behaviour of ours we are like little kids and we want to do it over and over again. Try and spot those times when your spouse has made the effort big or small. If it was a phone call or even a text message let your spouse know you appreciate them thinking of you during the day and sending that thoughtful message.
5 Love Language Tests
Last but definitely not least!!!! Do this test learn what rings with each other, what makes you and your spouse feel loved. If you have even more time, take some time to read the book if you want to get in depth into it. Understanding each other is so important so you can be a lot more empathetic and loving and understanding to how each other does things and why they do things.
Last month I talked about emotional abuse and the fear that this kind of behavior fosters in home and family environment. There are many ways emotional abuse can be rendered but today I wanted to touch on having open communication and creating this environment in our homes. Homes that are emotionally abusive can instill fear into members of the family which don’t allow for open communication to each other or even to people outside who may be able to help them.
I know firsthand how it feels to live in this fear as a child and how desperately afraid I was to say anything that would go against my parents beliefs. I was fearful of whether I would get the belt or a lecture lasting for several hours. In my parent’s defense they have been amazing to me and I am so grateful for all their sacrifices yet their parenting style was still of the old school ways. It was mainly my way or the highway and it was you listen to me because i’m older and i’m the boss and I know more than you. (Which in most cases when you are between 1-16years old proved to be right.) But as we got to be teenages we started pushing back and starting having our say, probably not the best way because all we did was try and replicate our views as forcefully as they did their views on us because that was the only way we knew how to communicate our views.
Fast forward to my marriage life I noticed me replicating many of these same behaviours. And it was hurting my husband emotionally especially because he knew there were better ways. I knew that I needed to communicate my views in a positive and more loving way. I knew that I had to create an environment in my home where my spouse would feel safe to communicate his feelings about our marriage and family without being afraid he will be teared down or that I will instantly lash out in defense. I also want my children to feel the same way to, that they are have a space to express emotion and be allowed to feel that emotion without ridicule or belittling.
From my personal experience here are 4 ways we can foster open communication in our homes:
Schedule a time with your spouse and children when they know that you are there completely listening to them. I know as a couple we need to have at least an hour of “marriage inventory” A week to have deep conversations about our concerns and goals etc. It’s not just the conversations of how was your day, but it’s the deeper questions that gets them to open up and express their true emotions. It’s great talking to them daily about their day but ensure at least once a week you can dedicate some time for serious alone conversations. If they know there is this time that they will get with you and it is consistent they will be able to develop this trust to open up to you.
Listen with Validation
Validation is allowing people to feel their emotions. I just read an amazing book by the lunds called I don’t have to make it all better where it talks about the power of validating others. Not trying to fix their problems but really listening with empathy. When your spouse say I have my boss is controlling maniac!, don’t respond like my normal response which would be don’t say that about your boss! That’s not a nice thing to say instead. we can respond with, sounds like he making your job harder, being told what to do is not pleasant at all. Allowing others to express their emotions allows them to feel through them and eventually be able to vent it out and can easily be led to finding their own solutions.
React with Understanding and Love
To often when we hear something we don’t like or disagree, we directly go into defensive mode or attack mode. In these times our family members need our love the most. They need our support at this crucial time as they are very vulnerable at these times. This is not the time to ridicule, teach or prove a point. This is the time to listen with empathy and love.
Be the Example
If you feel that there is terrible communication in your household BECOME THE ROLE MODEL. That’s all it really takes is one person showing how communication in the really should be. In my home it was my husband, he showed me how it was to have open communication with love. It took me awhile to get on the band wagon but it finally clicked and now our communication is a million times better than it use to be. (occassionaly I forget) Our children watch us the most if they see the way that we communicate is through force, harshness, they too will do the same.
How often do you see couples mock each other to a point where it gets really awkward. One of them would get offended or embarrassed then they would bring up something of the partner, it would then turn into a putting down session where each are digging out stories from the past. That couple use to be my husband and I embarrassingly enough.
Not trying to justify my behaviour but my culture is a complete mocking culture. You mock until that person cries. Mocking is jokingly referred to as another way of expressing love. I’m positive that mocking is the 6th love language. But in all seriousness this is a very destructive behavior that can diminish our self-esteem and confidence. It may seem like fun and jokes for a while but repeated long enough can have negative effects on your relationship. If you need to tell jokes find something else not your spouse!
As of lately we have recognized how quickly we can spiral down when we start mocking each other especially in front of friends and family. Isn’t it crazy that we are putting down the person we love the most. Isn’t this the one person we should be showing most love and respect yet also the easiest to put down? What my husband and I have begun to do is that when one of us are going down the track of mocking, the other spouse as kindly as possible lovingly says “same team remember…” instead of starting with another story to combat. Saying “same team remember…” is telling your spouse in the kindest way that what they are sharing is either, embarrassing, offensive or mean to you whether they agree or not means they need to stop sharing that story or mocking. Applying this simple phrase has helped us so much avoid arguments, and feelings of anger and bitterness.
Do you and your spouse constantly put each other down? Do you want to improve your communication? Post your questions or thoughts down below or email me at email@example.com or schedule a free introductory coaching session with me.