What’s Your Type?

nine personality types on blackboardThe Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness.

The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 4 — the Individualist. I was withdrawn, focused on how different I was from others, and often assumed that no one else saw the same issues and problems that I saw in the same ways.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 1, the Reformer. The Reformer is concerned with doing the right thing, serving people, and is very values and ethics-based with decision-making.

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 7, The Enthusiast, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

 

Minimalist Parenting

determination-little-pineWhen I first heard the title of Christine Koh and Ahsa Dornfest’s new book, Minimalist Parenting, I felt a wave of calm and relief come over my body.

Finally, I thought, a parenting book which cuts to the chase and addresses the root of so many modern parents’ anxiety, worry and over-parenting issues, giving us the tools to manage our time based on our values and true priorities in life and family. I expected the authors would give us an opportunity to think clearly about the kinds of families we are building, and offer tools and skills to make our vision for family life a reality.

Minimalist Parenting’s main message is about living joyfully while staying true to your values:

At the heart of Minimalist Parenting is formal permission to step off the modern parenting treadmill, and to have fun while you’re doing it. You’re not blowing your children’s shot at success – just the opposite. Living a joyous life that’s in line with your values (instead of some manufactured version of “successful” modern parenthood) will give your kids room to grow into the strong, unique people they are meant to be…More importantly, this way of being will provide a model that shows your kids how to trust their instincts as they move toward independence and adulthood. Finally, Minimalist Parenting will allow you to claim space in your own wonderful life. This is your journey as much as it is theirs….As you embrace Minimalist Parenting, the roller coaster of family life goes from anxiety provoking to fun. You’ll still experience the white-knuckle drops, the ups and downs, and a few blind turns. But you’ll be strapped in with direction and confidence, and you’ll enjoy the crazy ride.

Doesn’t that just make you breathe a huge sigh of relief and start gathering your sanity again?

I most enjoyed the section in the book that helped me to identify my “time style” and offered time management exercises. One of the authors described how she and her husband didn’t discuss their different time styles until they were married for ten years! My husband and I have only been married 4.5 years. In that time, we’ve had two kids, a move to a new house, a job change and a new business. We definitely haven’t had the chance to analyze our time style differences. This book is helping us to do that now.

For example, if you were to have an ideal day off, how planned ahead would it be, how full of activity would it be and how many people would you want to see? In answering these three questions, the book offers three dimensions to consider in determining your time style — planned-ness, filled-ness and peopled-ness. For many couples, each partner’s time style would be completely opposite, affecting the success of different family scheduling practices. In our family, my husband and I differ on all three dimensions of time style as defined above. I tend to pack our schedule with activities that are planned in advance and are social in nature, because given a perfect day off, that is how I would spend it. My husband would be spontaneous, chill out and maybe see a friend at one point in the day. And our kids move more slowly than I do, too. So when I go into uber-planned, activity-filled, social mode, I am inadvertently tiring out the whole family and our older child has tantrums. This book helps me to see how considering the entire family’s time style will help me to make a more reasonable weekly schedule for our entire family.

The book also takes the reader on a journey of decluttering the home, decluttering finances, understanding the value of educational opportunities both inside and outside of school, simplifying extracurriculars, streamlining meal planning and aligning celebrations and vacations to prioritized family values.

The Minimalist Parenting website offers a free online MinCamp, which may be a great way to start your journey. Another idea is to work through the book with parents from your moms group, school community or neighborhood, book-group style.

Becoming a Second Time Parent

Are you conteIMG_5127mplating the important question of whether to bring another child into your family? I went through the transition to second-time motherhood one year ago this month. Being a mom to two girls under 4 for the past 12 months has been amazing and challenging.

I always thought if I had two kids I would have them very close together, as I am a twin. I finally felt ready to think about another child when my older daughter turned 2 and I turned 39. The clock was ticking louder than ever. So we started trying and it took a little longer the second time, but we conceived after about 4 months. We were glad they would be three years apart—good spacing for many reasons.

Being seasoned parents, we wanted to be really prepared for No. 2. First, we moved from San Francisco to Palo Alto for access to great schools as well as proximity to work and a good community of friends with kids. Our new house was a block from a park.

We also made many other changes to streamline our life as a family. For example, my husband started putting the older one to bed, and I prepared to spend many hours during the night nursing and comforting. I also spent lots of precious alone time with our older daughter—which would never return again after the arrival of her sibling—and prepared her for the huge change and even bigger blessing that was going to arrive with the new baby in her life.

Even with all of this preparation, many of the realities of bringing baby home and truly transforming into a family of four were challenging: Now I had the baby in tow with me everywhere. I constantly barked at my older daughter to keep it down and not wake the baby. I was so exhausted from sleep deprivation that I had a short fuse. I also missed spending time with my older daughter. And she missed it, too, and felt sad when I snapped at her. The baby was beautiful, but she just lay there, ate and slept. It was tough on so many levels. It took a good nine months for me to get my bearings.

Now that the baby is 10.5 months, we have figured a lot of this out and enjoy our current state as a family of four. If you’re considering your own No. 2, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Accept that until the baby is 4 months old, you will be doing a lot of parallel parenting. Dad will be with the older sibling, and you will be with the baby. It will feel like you have a split-up family, and you will feel even more like you have no relationship with your spouse. This is temporary and necessary. Dig in, and do what you have to do to get through those first several months.
  • Create some special time with your older child so that they will receive one-on-one time with each parent during the week—even just 10 minutes. The older child needs to connect with each parent, especially the mom who is ALWAYS with the baby. When the baby goes down for a nap or if someone can take the baby for a little while, take the older child out. It can be to eat a snack, read a book, go to the park or do Special Time. The last one is a technique taught by Hand in Hand Parenting: Set a timer for any amount of time between 10 and 60 minutes, tell your child, “we can do ANYTHING you want to do” and let him or her lead the special time session. You give all your attention (no phones or other distractions) and just play along with what the child wants to do. It will fill his or her need for attention like nothing else and help him or her with the difficult feelings of sharing you with the new baby.

  • If you haven’t already put your older child in preschool, do so and consider extending how much time he or she is in school so that this child is entertained, well cared for and stimulated during the difficult months when you have to give your all to the new baby.
  • Get as much help as you possibly can. If you don’t have help from a family member or friend, bring a babysitter or nanny into your household mix as early as you can. There will be times when you want a sitter to be with the baby so you can spend time with your older child. You may need time to do some self-care, as you will be exhausted. Or maybe you will want help with cleaning. Whatever you need, this is the time to be liberal with getting help with all kinds of tasks and duties as it will take several months for you to get into a rhythm with two kids. It can get expensive in the spending department, but remind yourself that it is temporary and an investment in your emotional well-being to have help around your home.
  • Join or create a second-time moms group. DayOne has a wonderful class that meets for 4-week sessions on Tuesday mornings. It’s a place where new second-time moms come to talk about what is really going on, commiserate and generate ideas for support. I created a Second Time Moms playgroup for kids born spring–summer 2012 through PAMP. It has been nice to meet with moms who were all going through the same things at around the same time and to get out of the house and get some fresh air.

Kiran Gaind is a PAMP staff writer and owner of Ray of Light Coaching, a boutique life coaching practice for modern moms. Drop her a line at Kiran@rayoflightcoaching.com.

Family Time Management

runfamilylikeabizWhen surveyed on topics they would most like to see in the newsletter, PAMP members responded that their number one interest was time management.

Why is time management a top concern for PAMP members, and what can be done to address it?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about running your family like a business. The article discusses several modern families from around the country who borrow from the skills used every day in businesses and organizations. They use these skills to motivate their kids, and to streamline daily family activities that are aligned with clear, articulated and commonly understood values, goals and priorities.

How many PAMP member parents have taken the time to sit down and create a vision for their family – the way a CEO of a business or a manager of a corporate team might – prior to delving into the work of motivating and producing? This is the first step for any modern parent struggling with time management issues. Try sitting down to create a Family Mission Statement, and ask yourself: What do you hope your kids learn in your family? What values do you want to emphasize?

Second, see how it impacts the choices you make for family activities. Be sure to notice if your daily activities/actions reinforce and align to who you are as defined in your Family Mission Statement, or if they detract.

For instance, what if you review your Family Mission Statement and realize that signing your child up for one more class (that another family is doing and you think you have to keep up with) just doesn’t allow you to meet your value of being together as a family on the weekends? Or your value of unplugging and spending more time in nature? In this way, you can continue to use the Family Mission Statement as a tool in your time management thought process.

Very often, modern families are under pressure to keep up with the way other people are parenting their kids, to live up to a very high standard of perfection that our society currently holds for parenting, and to berate themselves up for not living up to this standard.

What if you completely let go of the way that others parent their children – the neighbors, the President of the PTA, your sister-in-law – and just decided today that you know exactly what you want to teach your children? How would it feel to just let go of external driving and pressure? How would your kids respond? What would happen to your sense of “time management?”

Finally, if you’ve created a Family Mission Statement and are looking for more “nuts and bolts” help with time management and organization, read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. Also, look for a local workshop that can support streamlining daily behaviors to maximize your time. Try seeking out a local coach who specifically works with families on organizational management of the home. And check the Parents Place for organizational workshops for parents held in Palo Alto.

Taking a business approach toward family time management may help to create more quality time and less stress in your family life.


The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto

healings-hands-heart

As parents, we are often looking for the perfect answers about what our children most need from us. By the time many of us arrive at parenthood, we’ve often achieved success in our careers and feel as if we should be able to transfer that success to each of our interactions with our children. But we soon discover that there is no certainty in parenting. Instead, it is a humbling and ever-evolving experience that, in the words of Dr. Brené Brown, is “by far [our] boldest and most daring adventure.”

Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls wholeheartedness. In her latest book, Daring Greatly, Brown applies this concept to parenting and explains how embracing our vulnerability as parents can help us to connect with our children and show them how deeply they are loved, just as they are.

In a recent article for The Huffington Post, Brown describes an Oprah interview with Toni Morrison as having a longstanding impact on her daily parenting practice.

Morrison asked one provocative and penetrating question of parents: “When your child walks into the room, does your face light up?” Or like hers, do your words and facial expression often focus on what needs fixing—hair, clothes, dirt, laces, phrasing, politeness, grade—first?

Often, the parenting culture we live in focuses on being perfect. We have to have the perfect thing to say, and our children have to grow into creations who are academically and socially perfect, play the perfect sport or instrument and also one day go to the perfect college. All of that perfection is somehow supposed to be a reflection of ours. It’s all supposed to mean that they are worthy, and by default, so are we, as their parents.

In order to remind herself that parenting is about practice, not perfection, Brown wrote “The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto”:

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

Brown’s manifesto is so refreshing for modern parents because it gives us permission to breathe a sigh of relief as if we are letting hot air out of a very tense and over-full balloon and to let ourselves be the imperfect human beings we are. It allows us to raise imperfect, human children, too. The point is not to be perfect but to be present, loving and accepting with whole hearts that love what is strong as well as what is vulnerable.

Brown’s most important message to both parents and non-parents is that being vulnerable is the most courageous thing we can do to improve our relationships and our lives. Our culture perceives vulnerability as weakness, yet her research has found that the opposite is true. It takes real courage to open our hearts and let people see what isn’t perfect. When we show our imperfection as parents, our children learn that we are human, that we are courageous and that we love ourselves with both our strengths and weaknesses.

So how can you use Brown’s manifesto as a touchstone in your own parenting? Here are some examples:

  • Try noticing the look on your face when your children are near. Does your face light up, or is it tense and worried? Try to smile through anxiety and worry, and see how it feels. Over time, see how this one simple shift affects your children’s mood as well as your own and the culture in your household.
  • When your children seem to be in states of vulnerability, such as sadness, anger, disappointment and fear, instead of negating their feelings or forcing some replacement experience onto them, try staying with the vulnerability and accepting it. Hold your son or daughter, and let your child know you are there and want to listen. This minor shift can have a profound impact on your relationship and on how safe your children feel in opening up when life is tough.
  • Lastly, the most important variable in our ability to parent wholeheartedly is our relationship to our own whole hearts, to our own vulnerability. How well do you embrace your own feelings of vulnerability? Are you often looking for ways to change your inner experience of these states by distracting yourself or forcing yourself to feel something else? If so, it will be hard to be open to your child’s vulnerability. We must start with ourselves and work from there.

The great thing about Brown’s work is that she doesn’t take herself, her work or vulnerability overly seriously. She takes all of it in human stride, laughs whenever possible and is one of the most authentic people you will ever have the pleasure of listening to.

Kiran Gaind is a certified integral coach for modern parents and owner of Ray of Light Coaching, based in Palo Alto. You can drop her a line at kiran@rayoflightcoaching.com and visit her website.         

How Will You Care for Yourself This Year?

Kiran Gaind, Integral Coach

Kiran Gaind, Integral Coach for Modern Moms

As a mom of two kids under age 5, I know how hard it can be to take care of yourself on a regular basis. And I don’t mean taking a shower or brushing your teeth. I mean something I call “self-care” — practicing self-nurturing and self-development. It may seem like the only people who engage in these practices are single people who are unaffected by the stresses of modern parenthood. But what about modern moms? Why is it so outrageous for us to be engaged in regular self-care practices?

It’s a mindset issue. With the pressure on to parent more meticulously than ever before, a mom’s success is often judged by how much she does for her kids: how many activities, how many nutritious meals, how well they are doing in their development. And once a mom addresses these bars for success, usually the expectation and message is … give just a bit more. Give it all away, and you are doing something right. WRONG.

a mom’s success is often judged by how much she does for her kids:

In our type-A Silicon Valley culture, taking time for yourself is cast as a luxury, but, in fact, it is necessary in order to remain healthy within our fast-paced way of life. The thought that a mom’s need for nurturance and development might come before her child’s often does not seem appropriate. But the more a mom cares for herself and continues her own development, the better she will parent because her efforts will not come from a place of worry and exhaustion.

Here are five ideas for moms to implement to help them feel more cared for, grounded and committed to their own development and nurturance.

1. Regular Exercise and Healthy Nutrition

So many moms have told me that they just don’t exercise anymore. They don’t have time. I understand that and know how hard they work to make the pieces fit together each day. But leaving out exercise is a recipe for diseases and a shorter life expectancy. We all want to watch our kids grow and to know and participate in our grandkids’ lives. So we have to take care of ourselves, and exercise is the most important element of a self-care program!

And our area has many excellent exercise offerings that include childcare options. For example, the YMCA of Silicon Valley offers a family membership that includes free childcare, and the Oshman Family JCC, in Palo Alto, is offers childcare to members at $6/hour for children older than 1. The facilities are state-of-the-art, and it has an amazing kid’s pool.

We all want to watch our kids grow and to know and participate in our grandkids’ lives.

You don’t have to spend money on a membership to exercise regularly, though. Combining a walk or run with a few situps and pushups at least three times a week works, too. After your cardio, do a couple sets of pushups, situps, squats, lunges and planks before jumping in the shower; this will give you a great overall workout—all for free! There are also many excellent free workout videos online.

If you are exercising yet still find yourself battling other issues, such as sugar cravings or other poor eating habits, you might want to consider seeing a health coach who can guide you in making a plan to eat in a more healthful way.

Kristen Kancler is a holistic nutrition coach, emotional eating expert and natural foods chef based in Los Altos who works with people one-on-one and in groups. She also offers a free recipe e-book of recipes at her site.

2. Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga

Mindfulness has become much more common in our culture over the past few decades, thanks to the work of people like John Kabat-Zinn and research at the Compassion Center at Stanford, among many other important forces.

Ten minutes of mindfulness meditation per day can make a big difference during challenging moments—as well as increase your overall sense of well- being, groundedness and self-acceptance. Locally, you can get free instruction at the Insight Mindfulness Meditation Center in Redwood City

Yoga is an effective method of slowing down the mind and opening up the body to prepare for meditation.

Yoga is an effective method of slowing down the mind and opening up the body to prepare for meditation. There are countless local yoga options, including a wonderful Mind, Body and Spirit group just for moms at the JCC. There are also many excellent yoga DVDs.

3. Listening Partnership

The idea behind a listening partnership is that all parents need to offload their feelings, stress, past experiences, and so on, with another caring parent who also needs to release the same tensions. Whatever emotions are clouding the parent from experiencing the present moment and effectively parenting by connection can be removed and processed in a healthy, supportive manner. The conversations that listening partners have with one another are different than simple venting or responding to another parent’s feelings with stories of one’s own feelings and experiences.

Hand in Hand Parenting, a nonprofit in Palo Alto, helps facilitate these partnerships. You can also sign up for the organization’s Yahoo! group, and request a listening partner there.

4. Gratitude Journal

We become what we most often focus our minds on. With that principle in mind, establishing a gratitude journaling practice creates the environment, momentum and mental states for us to enjoy and appreciate all that we work so hard to build and create.

Each morning, set a timer for 10 minutes, and write about what you are grateful for and how you hope to express that gratitude throughout your day. If you journal at the end of your day, you can write about what happened during the day that you are grateful for.

Do this every day, even for five minutes, and you will be amazed at how different your day is and how much better you feel, as a person and as a mom.

5. Walking in Nature

Spending time in nature is one of the most important ways we can recharge our batteries and reset our minds and spirits to focus on the bigger picture and all that matters most. Teaching kids to enjoy nature is also important. Although heading to the park with the kids is a good practice, what I mean here is taking time to walk and be in nature, at least once a week.

In Palo Alto, Pearson-Arastradero Preserve is a great place for walking, picnicking and enjoying nature. Other good options include Mountain View’s Shoreline and Cupertino’s Stevens Creek County Park.

Kiran Gaind is a life coach for modern parents and the owner of Ray of Light Coaching. Drop her a line any time at Kiran@rayoflightcoaching.com.