Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creating Joy

Welcome to the August Carnival of Natural Parenting: Creating With Kids
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they make messes and masterpieces with children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Despite the growing "no kids" movement that has been receiving so much press, most people in my experience think little kids are cute. Happy children make other people smile. Family, friends, and often complete strangers are drawn to my son, wanting to coax a smile out of him. I've decided to encourage this. Here are a few ways Peter and I create joy.

* I ask him to wave to people. He loves this game. As I carry him around, he will spontaneously wave to almost anything that moves. When people smile and wave back, he often kicks his feet and waves with both hands. As you can imagine, this level of happiness is contagious.

* We stop to talk. Our world is in a hurry. There are many people who want nothing more than human interaction, but we are all so busy. Whenever possible, I stop walking when people approach to talk to Peter. They ask his name, how old he is, and compliment him on his blue eyes and having teeth. (I assume he'll eventually outgrow the teeth compliments...) Older people often share some information about their children or grandchildren. It doesn't take long, just a few minutes to brighten someone's day.

* We visit a nursing home. The Sisters of Mercy have a motherhouse near us, where retired nuns and priests can receive assisted living or nursing home care. Peter and I accompany my mom to Mass there once or twice a month. It's a win-win; we get to attend Mass and the residents get to see Peter.

* I take him with me. As a general rule, Peter goes where I go. Volunteering, grocery shopping, to the mall, to the library, he's there. He learns how to behave in different places and how to interact with a variety of people. When I take him shopping with me to the thrift store where my mom volunteers, his presence speaks volumes. The clients are often urban poor; Peter's presence declares that I think this is a safe place to bring him. Little things mean a lot.

* I hold him. I believe that Peter is confident meeting new people because he is never forced to do so. If he doesn't want someone new to hold him, it doesn't happen. If he wants to hide his face for a minute before engaging, that's OK. If he crawls back at high speed to nurse for 30 seconds before exploring more of the playground, he can do it. He is confident reaching out because he knows he always has a safe place to which he can return.

As we create joy for those around us, we are filled ourselves. Isn't it wonderful how that works?

(Speaking of sharing, stop by yesterday's post for your chance to win a gift card from Tiny Tush!)

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Family Draw Time Art ShowKate Wicker shares art (and inspiration!) from her family's cherished tradition of family draw time.
  • The Rules of Creativity: Learning to Create with the "Non-Creative" — Zoe at Give an Earthly shares how she learned to accept her "non-creative" child and claims that anyone, child or adult, can be creative given the right handling and environment.
  • Creating With Kids: 4 Ways That Work For Us — See how Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings nurtures creativity with her kids through craft projects, outdoor creative play, celebrating the creative process, and setting up "little spaces of beauty."
  • Creating memories, not things — Mrs. Green from Little Green Blog reflects on life with a ten year old and how 'creating together' has evolved from 'things' to memories.
  • The Gift of Creation — It may be hot, but Kellie at Our Mindful Life is already thinking about winter.
  • Hidden Talents — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how providing the opportunity for creativity sometimes means learning to look for hidden talents in unusual places.
  • Creating Joy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she and her one year-old son create joy for their community.
  • How to do Crafts with Kids — Gaby from Tmuffin guest posts at Natural Parents Network and describes how to keep things simple when doing crafts with kids for magical (easy-to-clean, and tantrum-free) results.
  • Sugar & Spice & Baking on the Kitchen Floor — Carrie at Love Notes Mama enjoys making a mess in the kitchen with her daughter.
  • Young Scientist Makes Purple Potion — Hannah at Wild Parenting loves being a lab assistant for the young scientist in her life.
  • Making a butterfly house — Lauren at Hobo Mama demonstrates the proper way to build a wooden butterfly house with a preschooler.
  • Nurturing Creativity — Amyables at Toddler In Tow shares the enjoyment she feels in nurturing the creativity of her children.
  • Home School Music - Sparking A New Generation Of Musicians — Based on her musical background, Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she creates with and teaches music to her children.
  • Creating (im)perfectly TogetherMudpiemama shares some of the highlights of a summer spent building everything from ships to hoops but most of a lesson on letting go of perfection.
  • Family Soccer Kick Around — When her children wanted to play soccer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children helped organize something that would work for her family.
  • Creating Memories Together on Skype — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how you can create memories online with adult children or anyone who lives in another city or country.


  1. I often walk up to people and comment on how many teeth they have. That creates a lot of joy.

    On a real note, I love your take on this month's theme :)

  2. Oh I *love* this spin on the carnival theme!! What a fabulous way to look at creating with kids - thank you so much for taking it a different direction!

  3. What a lovely post! I agree about the contagious comment — the joy was contagious just reading about it. :) I love that you encourage so much interaction with others.

  4. Great post! I love the part about talking to others--I don't generally like talking to strangers (due to my inability to make small talk), but babies can bring such happiness to people who might not get a lot of human interaction. It's a good reminder to go outside my own comfort zone a bit :)

  5. I love the concept of creating something intangible and essential, like joy. A child's presence is a beautiful thing in the world, and from my experience people really do crave interaction and love to say hi to little kids. I hope that pleasantness always continues. Thanks for the ideas on how to cultivate it!

  6. @Amanda: In that case, I'm kind of hurt. You have never once complimented me on how many teeth I have. ;-)

    @Dionna: Glad you enjoyed it!

    @Lauren: Thanks! He is a charmer, doesn't take much effort on my part. :-)

    @Amy: I wonder sometimes if people think as they're walking away, "I don't think his mom said more than three words..." :-) It's easier to talk with strangers when really they only want to talk to the baby!

    @lovenotesmama: Thank you! Glad we connected through this carnival!

  7. This is so beautiful. I love the idea of focusing on creating joy. Thank you for sharing this unique perspective.

    God bless!

  8. this bought back such wonderful memories of how simple it used to be to bring joy into everyone's life. Thanks for sharing mama :)

  9. Oh I love your take on "creating"!!!! It is so wonderful to create joy, isn't it? I was just thinking today how awesome it is that friendship and even just a friendly, joyful demeanor toward strangers is something that we can give to the world that doesn't take anything or cost anything - but it's worth EVERYTHING. Lovely!

  10. I already liked you, but now I also think you are brilliant.

    This is a really, really nice post. One of your best, IMO.

  11. I like how your blog unites faith with natural / attachment parenting and living. These topics aren't often combined, but seem a natural fit to me. Looking forward to reading more...

  12. I'm so glad to read this post. I tend to think that other people think kids are cute too, and then I wonder, "Am I fooling myself? Am I just delusional to think everyone thinks my drooling, spitting, and stumbling kids are adorable?" We like to say hi to everyone (at the store, on the street, etc.) too. We feel like we're creating joy as well.

    Because even when you're having a bad day, when a baby gives you his best smile, how could that not turn everything around?

  13. @Kate: Glad you enjoyed it. Peace!

    @mrs green: Yes, bringing joy just seems to come more easily from little children. Makes me wonder what happens to us to make it harder.

    @Amyables: Thanks! Definitely true that the most important things don't cost a cent.

    @Patti: Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

    @Wendylori: Glad you stopped by! I figured since they fit well together in my life, they'd probably fit well in a blog, too. :-)

    @Gaby: So true! Baby smiles are pure gold.