As a parent, teacher, and deacon working with children and families, I am deeply aware of the challenges family’s face and I am passionate about creating and curating resources that help parents navigate a life of health, wholeness, and relationship with God that speak from a place of grace, not guilt or obligation. I don’t know about you, but I have enough guilt in my life – none of it making me a better parent.
This past week I had a chance to speak with someone who not only shares my passion for helping families, but is developing high-quality, intuitive, and free resources to do so well. Scott Stoner, from LivingCompass.org shared samples of his parent wellness materials for use individually or in small groups with me last week at Rooted in Jesus.
The free, downloadable parent wellness materials are based on the idea that the heart, soul, mind and strength are compass points for a healthy life. A quick (and free), online self-assessment shows which areas we might need to tend. This is the point in other parenting resources where experts proceed to give a list of 10 things I should be doing but am not, leaving me feeling even more guilty and inadequate. Naturally, instead of trying to do the ten things, I opt for doing one thing – usually eating a tub of ice cream.
But, Scott explained it this way: Think of health and wellness as a garden. In different times and seasons, different parts of the garden need different types of care. If one area is a bit drier than the others, then you water that area. The assessment tool shows you which area of your life might need tending at this particular time. Instead of a list of ten things, there is a book of tools to choose from in the areas of relationships, emotions, spirituality, rest and play, vocation, organization, resilience, and care of the body.
I took the assessment shortly after previewing the materials and discovered something I am not proud of, but I am sharing with you because I think we need more people being real and vulnerable about this really hard and really beautiful parenting journey. The area of my life that I need to tend most is my spirituality. Though I serve a church and field parent faith questions daily at work and on this blog, I am not consistently practicing what I preach.
I confess that I’ve recently abandoned my daily devotional and haven’t opened the poetry books that feed my soul in months. Too often I reach for my phone in the morning instead of praying. My pens and paints lie dormant on my table. This lack of soul tending has left me feeling uprooted.
The Parenting Wellness Compass book says, “Spirituality is the root system that grounds our lives.” In the Christian tradition, spiritual practices are means of grace, where Christ meets us, moves within us, nourishes and transforms us.
So, instead of reaching into the deep freeze for Ben and Jerry to soothe my parental angst, I am choosing to create what the Living Compass folks call a “NEXT step.” My next step is to spend 15 minutes each day reading scripture and creating a piece of tiny art to accompany it. On Wednesday, I am going to share my schedule and one-word journal and tool to build a daily practice.
I think that all of us parents can appreciate your honesty, Christine. I’m also afraid of what I might see when doing the self-assessment…
Thank you for your encouragement! As for the assessment, I would be interested to hear what you think. What made it not a guilt-producing process for me was that the questions were not prescriptive. So a question on rest would be something like, “do you feel your family is getting enough rest to be happy and healthy?” rather than “are you getting the recommended 8.7564 hours of sleep per night?” The underlying assumption is that there isn’t one right method/diet/practice/strategy. All families have different ways of living into health and wellness. You will find areas where you can say, “oh, I’m doing really great at this!” (like providing healthy meals for your family and making sure everyone has what they need to do well in school- just saying :)) There is also no prescribed next step. I chose to focus on my spiritual life and setting time aside each day to do what I know has fed me in the past. Other people have their own practices which tend to their spiritual health. Let me know if you do try it 🙂