Monday, February 6, 2012

The Practice of Awareness

On Friday, I wrote about how I began to embrace motherhood when I started parenting out of who I am. I also mentioned we need to come alongside each other and encourage one another. This post is me living out some of those things. Today, I'm joining Sarah Bessey's Practices of Parenthood Carnival. We're sharing some of the ways we enjoy parenthood and work life-giving practices into the day-to-day grind. Come celebrate with us! 


Before my first daughter, Kyla, was born, someone gave me a stack of parenting magazines. I didn’t get to all of them right away; I read them over the course of a couple years. As Kyla grew, I discovered she liked looking at the pictures of the babies on the pages.

It turned out those magazines provided a perfect way to teach Kyla about the world. We looked at the bright toys or yummy food featured on the pages, but most of all, I pointed out the expressions on the faces of the babies. I would point to the face and say, “This baby is sad because she’s hungry” on pictures advertising baby food, or “This baby is happy because she just got a new diaper.” (You can guess what kind of item that page was advertising.)

I hoped that this would help Kyla express herself and “tune in” to how she’s feeling at a given moment. We practiced awareness of our emotions and feelings by looking at the babies.

As the years have gone on, I haven’t given up my magazine-loving ways. Neither has Kyla. Now we practice a new kind of awareness through an activity called art journaling. Kaelyn, my four-year-old, joins us too.

In our version of art journaling, we flip through magazine until something catches our eye, then we rip it out create a collection of pictures and glue them into large sketchbooks. Each time we sit down to do this, I find I’m surprised by the girls’ choices in pictures and words. It helps me stay aware of their passions and thoughts. I love listening to their response when I ask, “Tell me about your picture. What do you like about it? What made choose that picture?”

In our art journals, we also write down verses and glue important items we don’t want to lose, such as Kyla’s first ticket to a movie theatre. Her Uncle Dave took her to see Up, and she drew a picture around the ticket.

After we moved last summer, Kyla felt really sad because she missed her best friend, Cora. I suggested she write a story in her journal about her friend and told her she could create anything she wanted to happen to the characters. Reading her story helped me to know what exactly she missed about her friend.

Awareness of our thoughts and feelings is an important skill for everyone. I’m hoping this practice is good for our whole family, leaving us more sensitive toward one another and offering me unique opportunities to speak into Kyla and Kaelyn’s lives.


dulce de leche said...

What a fabulous idea! Now I know what to do with some of those old baby magazines stacked in the closet :) I love the idea of intentionally helping children to be aware of and express their emotions.

Mondays with Mac said...

That sounds like a really great practice!

Erin said...

Becca, this is great! I love how you can learn about their interests & such from this fun project. Brilliant!

Sarah Bessey said...

What an absolutely fantastic idea. I am totally going to do this now. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Amanda said...

This is a great idea! I have wanted to start art journaling with my almost 4 year old as well as work on teaching him about emotions. This is perfect!