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Patio Parenting

I was a young mother. By age 24, I was married and had two small children. At times, I felt isolated and overwhelmed, completely unprepared for the level of commitment and selflessness that mothering two little beings required. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a powerful tribe of other young, strong mothers. We functionally co-raised our children, becoming the oft-discussed Village it takes to raise them right.

We had a name for it, this group of motley moms banding together for support and sanity. We called it “Patio Parenting”. Here are the rules: moms and kids all get together at one family’s house. The kids play together in the backyard while the moms sit on the patio, drink wine, talk about life and spirituality while ignoring the children. I mean, we watched to make sure they were safe. But we weren’t in there playing along with them, and we certainly weren’t helicoptering. The kids, mostly grown know, like to give us a hard time about it. “You never watched our game shows,” one said recently. (Exactly how many pretend game shows put on by 5-7 year olds do you think you could watch before saying, “Never again!”? Three. The answer is three.) We were doing our own thing, letting the kids play in an unstructured manner and getting our rare and much needed adult conversation.

As a more mature mom now, I have sometimes let myself fall into the trap of feeling guilty about patio parenting. Should I have been on the floor playing with them, even during their playdates? Was I wrong to take that little bit of adult time for myself? Then I read a recent blog post by practitioner extraordinaire and conscious parenting coach Suzi Lula. She reminds us that thriving mothers raise thriving children. And how do mothers, how do women, thrive? Through connection with other women. Through self-care. Through time to connect with their own spirituality. It turns out we were doing much more than drinking wine and chatting. Reading Suzi’s post, I realized that we had created a support group for spiritual moms. We were deepening ourselves through our conversations, sharing ideas about how to best handle the issues in our lives and generally lifting one another up. We were learning to thrive, while giving them the independence to thrive, too. We were doing it right.

(Sharing prompts: How do you make sure you're thriving? What are your favorite sources of support? Have you ever felt guilty for self-care and how did you get over it?) new

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