StorkNet interview with
Mimi Doe
Author of
Busy But Balanced

From the award winning author of "Ten Principles for Spiritual Parenting" and "Drawing Angels Near" comes an inspirational handbook for stressed out families.

In "Busy But Balanced" Mimi Doe suggests ways in which parents can unravel the chaos of everyday routine and create a spiritually nourishing environment. "Busy But Balanced" is filled with personal stories and written with humor and insight, that makes it easy for parents to make a difference one step at a time. A year-long program that will reconnect and rejuvenate family ties, "Busy But Balanced" is arranged by season. Some of the balancing tips include:

  • Winter: Celebrate Valentine's Day by making a list of qualities you love in your child. Type it on decorated paper, roll it up, and tie it with festive ribbons. Place this love scroll on his breakfast plate to find first thing Valentine's Morning.
  • Spring: Celebrate the first day of Spring by having a picnic--even if you're dining on a blanket in the living room. As the sun goes down, light lots of candles, turn up your favorite music and dance together to celebrate the beginning of Spring.
  • Summer: Select a day to visit your town as if for the first time. Forget chores and routines and instead strap the binoculars around your neck and head out to explore. Read some local history, eat lunch in a restaurant you've never tried, ask for directions even if you know where you're going.
  • Fall: Begin the magical tradition of a "thank you fairy," who leaves little goodies and notes for jobs well done.

In Busy But Balanced parents will learn how to break away from the madness, even for just a moment, and improve the connection to their children, no matter what their age. More importantly, Mimi Doe shows parents how to truly appreciate every moment and to pass that joy onto their children.

"Ladies Home Journal" calls Mimi Doe "a parenting guru." She holds a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard and has appeared on Oprah. Doe inspires parents across the country with her workshops and her popular on-line newsletter, Spiritual Parenting Thought for the Week and Web site:

MimiAuthor Mimi Doe discusses how to create a nourishing, warm, caring family environment and add a sense of peace back into our lives. If you need a little morsel of wisdom to help with your personal goals toward cozy family time, spiritual growth, laughter and renewal, this is the place to read! Be sure to take a moment to read our review of Busy But Balanced.

StorkNet: Mimi, thank you for being our guest here on StorkNet and Exploring Womanhood. We think Busy But Balanced is a remarkable book, and one that will inspire many readers with ideas for creating a deeper connection with family. How did you come to write about this topic? Please tell us about your other books.

Mimi Doe: Often when I gave a workshop or talk on my last book, "10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting" parents rushed to tell me how inspired they were at the idea of nurturing their children's spiritual lives but wondered how they could possibly do so between managing busy work schedules, kid's sports practices, homework, appointments, cooking healthy meals, and just getting through each day. They wanted to experience a more peaceful life, raise kind, honorable children, accomplish a personal goal or reach a dream, while being a committed parent--but how?

I am the mother of two girls, ages 12 and 14, and live this balancing act daily. I want to move forward with my passion, empowering parents and kids, while creating a nurturing home for my own family - therein lies the balance.

"Busy But Balanced" is offered with specific tips and ideas that real families can use in real active lives to create more connection with one another without moving to the woods, growing their own food, and chanting all day.

Dayna: I'm busy but very unbalanced most days and I would like to find a happy medium. What one suggestion would you give that would help me to let go of the things that aren't as important each day such as housework, and focus on relaxing? I try to relax but I am always looking around thinking that this or that needs to be done before I deserve to relax. Then, I go to bed exhausted each night. I have a 13 month old daughter. Thanks!

Mimi Doe: Dayna, Let go of perfection. There is no humanly way you can get everything your discerning eye glances upon done in one day and still be a loving mom for your precious daughter. Know that in a few years you will have that sparkling clean house of your dreams, but for today, if you get the dishes done you deserve a pat on the back and a long hot soak in the tub. When you're happy you're daughter is happy-so add moments of calm to your everyday knowing it's only making you a more loving mom.

Tracy: How can I create relaxed one-on-one time with 2 year old twins, a six year old, and a 29 year old husband? I have tried to think of ways to do this and everything I try seems to be more stressful than anything. With a house full of boys our day is jam packed and I can't seem to find a time to implement quiet one-on-one time with any of them. Thank you for any help you can give me. I'll be getting your book soon also for more help. Thank you.

Mimi Doe: Tracy, I suggest you might come up with a ritual in your household that offers each child one-on-one time with mom. How about Saturday morning breakfast at a local diner. Each week your guest revolves. This doesn't take a huge amount of time, but will offer your twins and 6 year old a special outing with mom.

I also suggest you set up monthly dates with your husband. I say monthly because those who attempt weekly dates end up frustrated with the improbably reliability of such frequent outings. Put these dates in your calendar in ink and book the sitter now.

Amanda: Thanks for offering to take questions. I love your books. I wonder what you could say about how to help my five-year-old with his fears at bedtime. I'm exhausted trying to get him to sleep. Thanks, Amanda

Mimi Doe: Amanda, Talk to your son about his worries and bedtime fears. I believe it is always best to trust a child and treat his fears respectfully. Trying to convince kids that there is nothing to be afraid of only increases their tension.

A few ideas you might try to help assuage his fears include:

  1. Create a worry wish tree. (Check out p. 320-321 of "10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting" for specifics.)
  2. Come up with some kind of worry rock, or worry bead he can slip under his pillow. The idea is he places his fears on the rock or bead and lets it go for the night.
  3. Visualize your son surrounded in a beautiful cocoon of light. Assure him that he is strong and safe and his angels are always with him.

Best of luck and don't forget to ask your son what might help him when these fears grab a hold and fill him with terror. Ask him to close his eyes and go deep within to that powerful inner voice for the answer. See what he comes up with. Kids often have the richest source of solutions for their own problems.

Karen: How can I make mornings less stressful in our house? I love the idea above of cozy family time but seem to feel stressed a lot. Thanks. Karen, mother of three.

Mimi Doe: Karen, Your morning preparation time can take on a less frantic rhythm when you stop worrying about the "quality" of that time. Give up the struggle of how things should go and connect with your children while in action mode. Carry the baby, if you have one, in a sling or Snugli while going about your morning routine so you both have some warm contact to begin the day. If your kids are older, ask them to help with the breakfast preparation. Create order in your home so everyone knows where the car keys always are, or the backpacks-everything has a place.

Light a candle in the kitchen before mixing up the oatmeal or packing your lunch. The flickering light magically casts a calming glow and can reshift your frantic mind mode. It doesn't take any more time to light a candle than to flip on the glaring overhead light but this simple ritual can add a new tone to your mornings.

Refrain from turning on the morning news as it pulls your attention from your time with the kids and getting out the door. Instead, pop in a Mozart CD and let the rhythm of classical music be your morning accompaniment.

StorkNet: We have three questions from our members regarding grandparents. They are listed below with Mimi's response following.

Nellie: My husband and I have settled in an area where we both live far from our families. It is hard not having family around, and I am often sad for my children that they don't live closer to their grandparents and extended family. I had a very close relationship with my own grandparents growing up, and would like to help my children have the same with theirs. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can help nurture my children's relationship with their grandparents while not living geographically close to them? Thanks!

Anna Lynn: Mimi, We are moving to another state so my children will no longer have constant interaction with their grandparents. We're all sad about this. I'd like to find a special way to create memories and share them with the grandparents. Have any ideas?

Olivia: I'd love to hear your ideas on what parents can do to encourage and support their children's relationships with grandparents, especially long-distance ones. What can I do as a parent to help my daughter (now almost three) to develop close relationships with my inlaws? We only see a few times a year because of the distance, but I'm thinking there are other traditions we can create, using the phone, letters, etc. to help them to connect more often.

Mimi Doe: A connection with their grandparents strengthens a child's sense of belonging. "I belong to this family that includes Poppy, he is part of who I am." The more a child can feel a part of something the less he/she will fill that void with inappropriate choices.

To stay connected is as easy as

  • Create a collage of pictures, People Who Love Me, to hang next to your child's bed and include shots of his/her grandparents. Make part of the bedtime routine saying goodnight to these important members of his/her family.
  • Sing a silly little jingle:
    Mama loves me
    Pappa loves me
    Mary too
    Puppy loves me
    Kitty loves me
    Grandma loves me too
  • Talk about grandparents and their history. Make their life stories an intriguing part of your oral family tradition. I never tired of hearing about my grandfather who rescued a drowning woman when he was a teen or my grandparents romantic meeting on an ocean liner.
  • Never speak unkindly of your parents or your spouse's parents in front of your kids. It gives very confusing messages.

Christine: Mimi, who are your own favorite authors?

Mimi Doe: My two favorite pieces of fiction, this month, are "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger and "The Samurai's Garden" by Gail Tsukiyama. My favorite nonfiction book of all time is "Creative Visualization" by Shaktia Gawain.

Heather: I love your parenting prescriptions! I did the picture of "bliss" with my 7 year old and at first she thought I was being silly, but I drew one too and we exchanged. It was the best afternoon we'd spent in ages. Thank you.

Mimi Doe: Heather, I'm so pleased this was a lovely moment with your 7 year old. Do save both of your pictures for a "blizz zap" on a day when you need it.

Anonymous: Do you have any tips for couples regarding putting intimacy back into their lives?

Mimi Doe: In the busy whirl of our lives we are expected to take care of so much--kids, home, pets, job, health, appearance, finances--that we might lose touch with our life partner. He/She is big enough to take care of him/herself, we think, relieved that there is one less area that requires our energy.

Begin fostering a more loving partnership by identifying small actions you might take, for instance:

  1. Set up time to articulate your shared goals and dreams. Don't call these meetings "dates" because when life gets busy, it's much easier to erase a "date" from the calendar than to reschedule a meeting.
  2. Remember that you are in this partnership for the long haul. There probably isn't as much time or energy to nurture the relationship as you'd like during these years when your children are young, but your time will come.
  3. Communicate honestly, directly, and often--even if it has to be through emails, notes, or phone messages.
  4. Banish television--no kidding. Many couples tell me that once they got out of the passive evening television rut, they were able to focus on their partners. Finally the kids are in bed, you're exhausted and it's easier to zone out in front of some droll programming then relate to the person sitting next to you. Your marriage will blossom when you scale back the distractions and use the quiet moments you have to be together.

Anonymous: Did you ever find it difficult to be a career mom and keep family close?

Mimi Doe: I have always put my family first. This choice has cut off a few opportunities that made me feel a bit frustrated in the moment, but ultimately worked out for the best. The truth is, I write and speak about parenting so who could expect me to dismiss that most important part of my life?

The universe works in magical ways. Being able to be home when my kids get off the school bus has always been a high priority for me. So, writing books is ideal because I can shut off my computer and be fully present when the children are here.

There have been some funny situations in this home/career balancing act. One time I was on the phone with a big whig at a television network talking about a television program I was doing on angels. I was in my home office and my daughter, a toddler at the time, came in and said at the top of her lungs, "Mom please wipe me."

StorkNet: Mimi, thank you very much for being our guest! If you have one last message for us, what would it be? That said, we hope you will be our guest again soon!

Mimi Doe: My last message would be to trust your instincts always. Your innate wisdom and gut feelings can truly be your compass in parenting. It isn't a one size fits all situation. Each child is different, and each family is unique. Don't allow any expert to convince you to do something that you feel innately isn't the right decision. Oh and my last, last message would be to know that perfect balance everyday is not possible. Look at the overall essence of the life you want, and the balance you strive for and know that glimmers of harmony will shine through the mundane.

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