Single Parenting

One of every four American children today lives in a single-parent home. And though the circumstances may vary (some parents are divorced, others are widowed, and others are single parents by choice), the reality is that solo parenting is often stressful, demanding, and hectic. If you are a single mom or dad, there are 10 things you can do to help minimize the stress in your life — and bring back the joy of parenting.

Get a handle on finances: Raising a family on one income, or relying on an ex-spouse for child support, can be one of the hardest aspects of parenting alone. That’s why it’s important to take steps to budget your money, learn about long-term investments, plan for college and retirement, and, if possible, enhance your earning power by going back to school or getting additional job training.

Set up a support system: All single parents need help — whether it’s someone to watch the kids while you run out to do errands or simply someone to talk to when you feel overwhelmed. While it’s tempting to try to handle everything alone, ask friends and family members for help. You could join a single-parent support group, or, if finances allow, hire a trusted sitter to help out with the kids or someone to assist with housework.

Maintain a daily routine: Try to schedule meals, chores, bedtimes, and other family functions at regular hours so that your child knows exactly what to expect each day. A consistent routine will help your child feel more secure and help you feel more organized.

Be consistent with discipline: Children thrive when they know which behaviors are expected of them and which rules they need to follow. If you are divorced or separated, work with your spouse to create and observe consistent rules and methods of discipline (there’s nothing more stressful than having one parent undermine the other). If your child has other caregivers, talk to them about how you expect your child to be disciplined.

Answer questions honestly: Inevitably, questions will come up about the changes in your family, or about the absence of one parent. Answer your child’s questions in an open, honest, and age-appropriate way. Make sure that your child gets the help and support he needs to deal with difficult emotions.

Treat kids like kids: With the absence of a partner, it’s sometimes tempting to rely too heavily on children for comfort, companionship, or sympathy. But children have neither the emotional capacity nor the life experience to act as substitute adult partners. If you find yourself depending on your kids too much or expressing your frustrations to them too often, seek out adult friends and family members to talk to. Or seek to counsel if necessary.

Abolish “guilt” from your vocabulary: It’s always easy for single parents to feel guilty about the time they don’t have or the things they can’t do or provide for their children. But for your own sense of well-being, it’s better to focus on all the things you do accomplish on a daily basis and on all the things you do provide — and don’t forget about all the love, attention, and comfort you’re responsible for! (If you ever question your day-to-day achievements, just make a list.) If you’re feeling guilty about a divorce or other disruption in your home life, think about joining a support group for other divorced parents. Focus on helping your child (and yourself) get the help you need.

Take time for your children: Even though the piles of laundry and dirty dishes may beckon, set aside time each day to enjoy your kids. (After all, isn’t that what parenting is all about?) Spend quiet time playing, reading, going for a walk, or simply listening to music together. And most important, focus on the love between you and on your relationship as a family.

Take time for yourself: Likewise, it’s important to schedule time for yourself. Even if it’s something as simple as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or having a chat with a friend, setting aside a little personal time will give you a chance to refuel.

Stay positive: It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the responsibilities and demands of single parenthood. On top of that, you may be experiencing the pain of divorce or the death of a spouse. Despite all of your own feelings, though, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude, since your children are affected by your moods. The best way to deal with stress is to exercise regularly, maintain a proper diet, get enough rest, and seek balance in your life. If you’re feeling sad, it’s okay to share some of your sentiments with your children, but let them know that they are not the cause of the problems — and that good times lie ahead for all of you. 

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; CompleteMom.com; Parents Without Partners; Single Mothers by Choice; the Women’s Institute for Financial Education

Min-Elix Herbal Syrup & Echinacea Summer Tincture

This fruity, delicious herbal syrup is rich in easily assimilate iron and calcium.
It’s a great nourishing formula for children, as well as anyone feeling a little rundown or tired.

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It’s also great as a PMS, pregnancy, postpartum, or menopausal tonic.
3 parts rose hips
2 parts nettle leaves
2 parts wild oats
2 parts chickweed, fresh
2 parts Malva leaf, fresh
1 part yellow dock root
1 part alfalfa leaf
1 part red clover blossoms
1 part violet leaf and flower
1/2 part grated fresh ginger root
1/4 part cinnamon chips
1/2 part chopped dried apricots
1/2 part currants or raisins
1/2 part fresh or dried cherries
Unsulfered blackstrap molasses
Brandy
Raspberry vinegar
1. In a large pot, combine the herbs and dried fruit. Cover with 3 times as much water.
2. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat, stir well, and cover.
3. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Check water level as the mixture simmers; it should reduce to about half.
4. Turn off heat, and allow mixture to cool down for 2-3 hours.
5. Strain well, squeezing all liquid from the herbs. Compost herbs, and measure the volume of liquid. For every quart of liquid, add 3 cups of unsulfured blackstrap molasses, 1 cup brandy, and a few dashes of raspberry vinegar.
6. Stir well, and bottle. Store in the refrigerator, it will keep for several months.

To Use:

Take 1 tablespoon a few times per week over a period of several months.
If you’re anemic or very run-down, try 2-3 tablespoons per day, as needed.

Echinacea3Echinacea Summer Tincture.

Echinacea stimulates the immune system. It also works as an antiviral, fighting colds and flu, and promoting healing of infections. We take this tincture when fighting an infection when traveling, or we apply it topically to minor inflammations, such as bug bites.
1 cup fresh echinacea buds, perfect flowers, leaves and stems rinsed, chopped and pounded
1 cup 190 proof ethanol alcohol {Everclear} and 1 cup distilled water
OR
2 cups vodka {90 to 100 proof}
1. Place prepared herb in a clean jar. Cover with the solution of alcohol and water. Keep in a cool, dark place. Shake twice daily. Macerate for 48 hours.
2. Filter tincture through a food-grade screen. Pour finished tincture into a brown glass bottle and label.

The Henna Ritual

Henna, a flowering shrub found throughout Asia and along Africa’s Mediterranean coast, has provided humans with healing, romance, enchantment and beauty for thousands of years. In the West, henna is most famous as body ornamentation, an alternative to tattooing and in fact, henna does have much to recommend itself in this area. It is painless and temporary, with no risk of infection. Henna’s dried, powdered leaves are cooked up into a paste, creating the enchanting dye.

Traces of henna have been found on the hands of Egyptian mummies as far back as five thousand years ago. From that time until the present, henna has been used to transform the body into a living amulet. Henna provides protection, prosperity, fertility, good health, romance, and joy. It brings you into immediate contact with the sacred. If you have had henna painted on you and you did not receive an immediate surge of spiritual uplift, then something was not right, either with the henna or with the ritual.

A fine henna artisan knows more than just how to mix up a good batch of henna and how to draw a pretty picture. She knows which designs to draw where so as to produce desired results. On the subcontinent, brides are adorned with peacocks and ripe mangoes, simultaneously celebrating and stimulating their unleashed sensuality. The married woman wishing to proclaim her love for her husband has dots and waves painted upon her palms: dots representing the rain of love that she longs to shower over him, waves for the passion she can barely control. A married woman with worries needs other designs. In Morocco, an eye inside a heart drawn upon one’s palm safeguards one’s lover from the covetous glances of others. The design of a horse will stimulate her partner to his utmost virility. To honor a young girl’s first menstruation, a deer may be painted upon her soles. To heal and assuage fears of infertility, a date palm is applied to the thighs.

Although henna is popular, powerful and beneficial, much of what you’ll find available commercially is poor quality. Henna paste only lasts for a few days; premixed henna in tubes may have been sitting like that for years. Exactly what’s in the tube may also be a mystery; premixed henna tends to come from countries whose ingredient labeling requirements are less than stringent. Either hire a reputable henna artist or mix up the stuff yourself.

Cooking up henna is not the hard part. Depending upon what you envision your design to look like and the extent of your artistic talent, drawing may or may not be difficult. The hardest part of henna for most Westerners is the time and stillness involved. Henna cannot be hurried. It is a sensuous, leisurely ritual. The Kama Sutra lists henna as one of the erotic arts required for women to know, but henna teaches other arts as well. Given the opportunity, henna will teach you to become the master of your time rather than the slave of your clock.

The Henna Ritual

hennapowder

Although you may paint henna anywhere you prefer, it works best on hands and feet. Whatever area you plan to henna must be free from all lotions and creams and then the skin must be exfoliated: a loofa or Hayate works well. Something is then placed upon the skin as a primer: if your skin is not sensitive, a drop of essential oil of eucalyptus is best. If you are sensitive, rub half a lemon over the area.

Henna paste can now be applied to your skin. In order to get a good color with staying power, it must remain on your skin for hours. Overnight is best. The paste goes on black. When it begins to dry and turn matte, a lemon/sugar mixture is applied for fixing and enhancement. This can be reapplied until a glaze forms. Henna craves heat, especially dry heat. Traditional rural henna artisans kept heated coals or stones for their clients to rest their hands and feet near. A hot cup of tea will work for you although you will not actually be able to touch it, only allow the heat to radiate towards your design. If you have had both palms done, you will not be able to drink the tea either, unless someone lifts it to your lips.

You really can’t do anything while henna is applied. Henna laughs in the face of multitasking. You can talk. You could listen to music or watch a movie. Of course, if you’ve had both palms done, someone else will have to handle the remote. You could read if one hand is reasonably free or someone turns your pages. If you’ve had one sole done, you’ll have to hop. If you’ve had both painted, you will be unable to walk without wrecking your design. Ideally, you will have someone with you to pamper you and take care of you. If you don’t have such a person, do your henna in segments, one foot or hand at a time and save the rest for the next day.

Henna sets best while you sleep. One of the advantages of doing henna at home is that you can time its application for right before bedtime. Once the lemon and sugar are done, wrap your design carefully and gently in toilet paper, mummy style. Leave it on for six to eight hours, the longer you can, the better your color will be. Eventually, the paste will come off by itself. Once it starts to peel off, crumble it off or scrape it off. Remove the last bits with some olive oil on a cotton ball. Avoid exposing it to water for the first twenty-four hours. You will have an orange-colored design, which will take a further twenty-four to forty-eight hours to evolve into its final shade.

Henna is a living being. You cannot control nor completely predict exactly what shade will result nor how long the henna will remain. Henna’s palate ranged from red to brick to brown.

A henna stain should last a minimum of two weeks. It may last as long as twelve. To some extent, this is dependent upon the quality of the henna and the care and talent of the artisan but there is also a personal, chemical interaction involved

. Henna loves some people; they never receive a weak shade. Others have to work and experiment to achieve the color they want. The color ultimately received is always an eagerly awaited mystery.

henna baby

Henna Flowers and Fragrance

In India, henna plants are grown in the backyard as hedges and for personal use. It’s not likely that most of us will be able to grow enough to produce sufficient powder but there are other reasons to grow a henna plant. The dye comes from the leaves. The flowers have their own power. Blossoms packed into woolens repel moths. Spiritual protection is provided and your clothes retain the fragrance.

Henna’s fragrance is legendary. An old saying in India states that when henna is in bloom, snakes and men draw near. Arabic tradition says just breathing the fragrance of the blossoms restore fertility and rejuvenates virility. An essential oil is produced, although it is rare and expensive. The paste, too, has its aroma which lingers on the flesh as long as the design does. In Asia and Africa, the aroma of henna is believed to reduce men to putty in a woman’s hand. Henna has a distinctive aroma, earthy, primal and green. It evokes strong reactions. Should someone dislike the fragrance, you can add rosewater or orange blossom water to the paste.

There are thousands of recipes for henna paste and thousands more for the lemon/sugar aftermath. Recipes are hoarded and treasured and kept as family secrets. A very basic recipe follows: feel free to improvise. Some substitute a shot of espresso for the tea. Others add assorted spices, like cardamom, cloves or fenugreek. Saffron is an expensive but seductive addition. Pink or red rose petals can be added, too. Okra is sometimes used to thicken the paste. Strain all solids from the liquid before adding henna.

Have fun!

Henna Paste

1/2 cup loose black tea

1/2 cup henna powder

4 cups water

1 fresh lemon or lime

1 teaspoon essential oil of eucalyptus

Any color enhancers you wish to add such as spices rose petals or sliced, dried limes.

1. Your henna powder should be green and fragrant. It must be sifted. Put it through a very fine mesh strainer. You can stretch panty hose over a bowl and push the powder through.

2. Boil the tea leaves in 4 cups of water until the water has been reduced by about half.

3. Add whatever additional ingredients you would like.

4. Let the brew simmer for approximately 1 hour.

5. Allow the brew to cool on the stove, preferably overnight, without removing any of the solid ingredients yet.

6. Strain and discard the solids, reserving the liquid.

7. Add the juice of 1 lemon or lime {only the juice, no pulp or seeds} to the brew.

8. Warm the brew gently but do not boil.

9. Begin to add your henna powder, spoonful by spoonful, stirring all the while. I’m not giving you precise amounts because you need to achieve a consistency and your eyes and hands will help you do this better than numbers. The henna should ultimately be the consistency of cake batter. Stick a spoon into the mixture and see how the paste drips off. If it runs off quickly and easily, it’s too thin, add more powder. If it clumps and doesn’t flow at all, add more liquid, a bit at a time.

10. Once the correct consistency is achieved, add the teaspoon of eucalyptus oil.

11.  Put a little paste on your skin for fifteen minutes. Although the henna isn’t full strength yet, it should leave a faint orange mark. Testing is a good idea because a lot of time and effort will be invested after this point. Who wants to painstakingly draw a design and wait eight hours just to find out that the henna didn’t take?

12. Let the finished paste rest for about six hours, covered in a warm place. You’re ready!

Lemon and Sugar

Juice 2 lemons using a strainer so that the juice separates from the pulp and seeds, which can be discarded. Add about 2 teaspoons of sugar for each lemon. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely.

There are all sorts of methods for applying henna, ranging from pastry-baglike plastic cones to plastic squeeze bottles to plain old sticks. There is no right or wrong way, only what works for you.

Henna fades away completely on human skin, nails, hair and horse manes, too. Everywhere else, consider it a permanent dye. Be careful where you prepare and apply it. Cover the area with newspaper or plastic. You will never get it out of a carpet. Of course, sometimes this is an attribute. Henna can be used to paint enchanting designs on magickal articles. Henna can be used to create a beautiful and protective finishing tough for a small chest to safeguard your treasures.

henna chestHenna Treasure Chest

Henna paste

An unfinished wooden box

The henna will not take if the box is coated with any lacquer, varnish or similar substance. To test, apply a small amount of henna paste in a manner that can be incorporated into the eventual design. Leave on for fifteen minutes and then scrape off. A pale orange stain should remain. If it doesn’t, some sort of finish is on the wood, which must be removed.

Begin your design in the center. Then work from the edges inward. Take your time and work in stages. Henna’s colors evolve with time. The color as it first appears is not the finished shade. Eventually, the color will be consistent.

Mommy~and~Me Yoga 101

An easy way to ease back into exercise, mommy-and-baby yoga can be a safe, fun and healthy practice for both of you as long as you take a few precautions.

Looking for a simple way to connect both emotionally and physically with your baby? Try mommy-and-me yoga! Unlike the kinds of yoga you might have practiced on your own (or simply heard about), doing yoga with your baby is quite different: At yoga class, you’ll help your baby perform simple stretches with playful music and some simple props thrown into the mix to engage and stimulate the minds of your little yogi. Just don’t expect your 3-month old to rock a warrior two pose — you’ll hold onto her throughout the practice up until she’s proficient at crawling or walking on her own.

BENEFITS OF POSTPARTUM YOGA FOR MOTHERS

  • It helps ease new parent jitters. Get started by attending a class taught by a trained instructor — it’s a safe and structured way to engage with your baby.
  • It’s a little TLC for your body. Any kind of yoga gives you an opportunity to nourish and care for your body through focused stretches and mindful breathing exercises, which is especially important after carrying a baby for nine months and then giving birth!
  • It stretches and strengthens the muscles that need the most TLC. The gentle movements and mindful breathing that are integral to yoga boost abdominal strength and activate the pelvic floor muscles, which aids recovery from giving birth, while classic poses — from upward facing dog to cobra — help open up the shoulders and chest you rely on for all of the rocking and cradling you do in the first few months with your baby.
  • It helps you meet new moms. After baby is born, you might not have as much time for socializing. But it’s reassuring to talk to other mothers who are going through the same experiences as you are. Yoga class provides a safe and nurturing environment for new parents to discuss worries and concerns. You’re not alone!
  • It helps you and your new baby bond. Yoga is a healthy, playful activity you can enjoy together.

BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR BABIES

  • Helps develop motor and sensory skills. The simple stretches and poses can help your baby gain self and environmental awareness. Of course your baby doesn’t need to be running marathons right out of the womb — but experts believe that early activity can help your little one develop voluntary movements, which can build a strong foundation for sports, dance and exercise later on in adulthood.
  • Aids in digestion. Apanasana, or knees-to-chest pose, has been shown to alleviate constipation, gas pains and colic (which is often caused by gas).
  • Promotes better sleep. Although it’s not guaranteed, some parents report their babies sleep better after attending baby yoga classes.

HOW IS A POSTNATAL MOMMY-AND-ME CLASS STRUCTURED?

Most public postpartum yoga classes have a very open and casual atmosphere. Lasting anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes, they often begin with meditation or breathing plus some beginner-friendly pose sequences that involve holding your baby in your arms. Moms sometimes feed or change their babies during simple sequences — it’s really no big deal! So you don’t have to worry about your baby’s behavior upsetting the zen.

HOW SOON AFTER BIRTH CAN YOU START?

While some yoga studios welcome babies as young as 6 weeks old, waiting until your baby can hold her head up without your help (usually around 3 months of age) can set you up for a safe practice full of poses that put you both to work.

SAFETY TIPS FOR POSTPARTUM YOGA

While mommy-and-me yoga classes should be structured with your safety and baby’s in mind, keep in mind these few tips to stay safe:

  • Get your doctors’ OK. Make sure to get clearance from your child’s pediatrician as well as your own doctor before attempting any baby yoga.
  • Check out baby’s skills. Can she lift and hold up her head on her own? If not, hold off. The practice will be much safer when she can.
  • Protect your tummy. If you’re recovering from diastasis recti, avoid poses that engage your core muscles (like boat pose) and skip any deep backbends.
  • Stretch gently. Because your body continues to produce hormones that loosen the ligaments even after you give birth, don’t push too hard on the stretching.
  • Don’t overdo it. If any move seems like it might be a little too much for you or your baby, speak up. If you still feel at all uncomfortable, skip it. Baby yoga should be more about the bonding than the workout. Safety always comes first!
  • Baby comes first. Taking care of your baby is your first priority — and it’s really no big deal if your little one cries for a feeding or a diaper change during class.

BABY YOGA MOVE TO TRY AT HOME

Curious and want to try a little mommy-and-me yoga at home? Here’s a playful pose you can practice with your little one (of course, the safety tips above still apply). Keep in mind, it’s best to do mommy-and-me yoga in a class with an experienced yoga teacher, who can help ensure you’re doing the poses correctly and safely.

Butterfly Pose with Baby (Baddha Konasana)

https://instagram.com/p/88BvIQq4zU/embed/?v=5

This hip-opener will feel great for you and give you and your baby some playful facetime.

  1. Sit down on your mat facing your seated baby, supporting her by holding her hands (or wrapping your hands around her upper body if she’s still working on sitting up).
  2. Bend your knees and bring your heels together as close to your body as you can, opening your knees out to the sides. Position your baby’s heels together (so she’s mirroring your position.)
  3. Continue to hold on to your baby as you shift your upper body from left to right and back and forward, moving together.
  4. You can hold this pose as long as you’d like, but for your baby five of your inhale/exhales should be a good count — of course adjust depending on how well your baby takes to it!
  5. If you’d like, lie baby back on her back and hold her feet together, knees open wide. Gently rock her feet back and forth, massaging her back on the mat.