Creating Simplicity & Joy with Christine O’Brien

The beginning of the year brings reflection and resolutions for many. As a mother in Southern California, where it’s technically “winter” but often warm enough to go without a jacket and let the children play outside everyday, the new year still brings an urge to nest and create a cozy home.

Christine lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. She is a Parenting Coach, recently trained as a KonMari Consultant, who helps other mothers create joyful homes for their families.

KonMari is the organizing method created by Japanese professional organizer Marie Kondo. A method she shared in her bestselling book, “The Life Changing Method of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”

Creating Simplicity with Christine O'Brien

Christine is also a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach. She teaches techniques based on Kim Payne’s book “Simplicity Parenting” which is full of helpful tools for creating daily rhythms that allow children to feel secure and supported.

Several years ago I read the book that started the KonMari craze: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” There are many aspects of the book that I find informative, however I don’t apply it strictly to my own home. I found that the book “Simplicity Parenting” was more applicable to my family’s personal lifestyle and I implemented several of the techniques it outlines.

The KonMari method was the catalyst for a complete lifestyle change for Christine. A few months ago I sent her an email to hear more about her personal philosophy and how it made her life more joyful.

Since then I’ve been following her wonderful Facebook Group, “From Chaos to Calm,” where she offers guidance to parents who are looking for peace in their day-to-day family routines. It is inspiring to read testimonials on this page from people who are making positive changes in their lives.

I can understand why the KonMari method has such a passionate following. Many people are also applying the KonMari practice to areas outside of the home and making more mindful choices throughout their lives.

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Interview with Koyuki Smith :: Babywearing Expert and Childbirth Educator

Koyuki Smith is a babywearing expert, childbirth educator and doula.  She lives in Harlem with her husband and two home-schooled sons. I discovered her on Pinterest almost 3 years ago via a story she was doing as part of the Sling Diaries for Sakura Bloom. I read her blog and enjoyed her stories so much, I sent her an email and we’ve kept in touch ever since.

You’re pretty dynamic as a birth professional! You teach childbirth education, you’re a doula, cloth diaper educator and elimination communication teacher. Babywearing obviously fits into the spectrum, but what inspired you to pursue advanced training in babywearing?

About seven years ago, before there WAS a significant professional babywearing world, I started working at Metro Minis, which was the first babywearing store in New York City – one of the first few in the country, actually – and the seed of what would later become the Center for Babywearing Studies (CBWS).

In order to make sure that we were providing proper instruction to our customers, Metro Minis brought Ulrike Hower of Die Trageschule in Dresden, Germany to New York to train the entire staff. The store then later sent two of us, Joanna McNeilly, who went on to found CBWS, and me, to Dresden for further training.

A couple years after that, I also trained with the Babywearing Institute to understand different perspectives and approaches within the community.

Many couples take childbirth preparation classes, if they’re lucky their class will cover babywearing, but if it doesn’t, where should they go to learn?

While a childbirth or newborn care class might briefly introduce babywearing, it’s unlikely to give parents enough information to really navigate the topic with ease. My Intro to Babywearing classes often run about an hour and a half, with extra time to try on carriers.

Expecting and new parents can find babywearing classes at stores that specialize in babywearing, and at many places that offer other baby-and-birth-related classes. They can also choose to hire a babywearing consultant to come to their home for private consultations.

Alternately, rather than looking for a class, some parents might prefer to attend babywearing support groups, just as some parents prefer to seek breastfeeding support from La Leche League meetings and not in classes or consultations. You can find local babywearing support groups at Babywearing International.

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Interview with Lou Harvey-Zahra :: Author and Positive Parenting Expert

Lou is a mother and the author of Happy Child, Happy Home: Conscious Parenting and Creative Discipline and Creative Discipline, Connected Family: Transforming Tears, Tantrums and Troubles While Staying Close to Your Children.27650_ap

Her books have wonderful tips for connecting with your children and she empowers parents to create an environment of magic and wonder and gives you tools for disciplining without using punishments and rewards. Lou trained as a special needs teacher, worked teaching autistic children, is a trained Waldorf teacher and ran playgroups for 12 years. She travels and gives talks and workshops in Europe and Australia and is known for being a common sense educator who presents in a heartfelt way, her motto is “never to harm, only to help, I just inspire.“

She believes the most important parts of parenting take two minutes, one of the things she said that really resonated with me was “childhood is a sacred special time and children don’t know time, they don’t know minutes or days of the week and rhythms make them feel safe, rhythms hold families together.”

I know you’re a Waldorf teacher, but what inspired you to write a book about discipline and happy households?

I write to give parents new ideas to create happy homes. I know parenting isn’t easy and parents don’t have ideas unless they watch somebody, read a book or attend a workshop or learn from their own parents. I do it for children because childhood is an important stage of life and I’m passionate about childhood, I think it’s a special and unique phase. I want to give parents ways to connect with their children, so their children can have a childhood of magic and wonder. When you use creative discipline, both the children and the parents can be happy.

Lou Harvey-Zahra

Did you have any deep held beliefs about discipline you had to let go of during your training as a Waldorf teacher?

I didn’t have any deeply held ideas. I was very lucky because my parents didn’t know anything about creative discipline, but they did use creative ways. So I was never hit or given time out or grounded. When I was doing my Waldorf teacher training, I learned it’s not what you teach, it’s who you are as a person that has the most profound effect on a child. Running playgroups and having children made me more conscious about what works and what doesn’t work. My ideas have evolved based on what works without using rewards and punishments, what works without making them feel really bad. It doesn’t mean letting them get away with things. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. Teach them to self-regulate their behavior. If you punish they just learn not to get caught.

Would you say your books are for every parent or for parents that already have knowledge of Waldorf schools, Rudolf Steiner and his teachings?

Definitely every parent, a lot of people say I have a common sense parenting or heartfelt parenting approach, it’s definitely for everybody.

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