The Mostly Connected Parent

The Mostly Connected Parent


I know what feels right for me in parenting. I know that I want connection and that respect works both ways. I know that punishing a child isn’t the way to help them learn about the world around them. And that praising them unnecessarily isn’t helpful in the long run either.

Yet I’ve find, more often than I would like, that I’m fighting with habits and conditioning.

More often than not modern gentle parents have been raised by parents who were more authoritarian, given the time they were bought up. So we have an internal conflict of what we feel is right versus what crops up in those heated moments.

So many of the issues surrounding parenting and children is centered around respect. Or moreso, a lack thereof. Children often aren’t fully viewed as people worthy of connection and respect.

So when I’m respecting my child’s needs, giving them choices, helping them with transitions, understanding that they need me, helping them deal with big emotions, and not rewarding/punishing them as a means to get them to ‘obey’… I’m viewed as naive or crazy.


always done it this way quote

But, I’m right to question this.

You’re right to challenge the norm and consider the road less taken.

Cognitive dissonance is that uncomfortable feeling that you get when confronted by something new that makes sense but challenges you. Pushing past that discomfort is hard, but I am so freaking glad I did (and will continue to) time and time again.

I personally am not quick to anger. When faced with strong emotions from a toddler or a defiant four year old, my instinct is sometimes to make it all better. This is just as unhelpful as a temper. I can be borderline permissive and have to consciously be mindful of my choices and their implications.

This is particularly true when parenting in public around those who parent differently. It’s like I turn into another mama sometimes.

Earlier on in my parenting journey, I struggled with what felt right versus what everyone else was doing. I was new to parenting, maybe they knew better? Maybe the thought that children could be respected and firm boundaries could be enforced without punishment (physical or emotional) was too idealistic?

Either way, I made some regrettable decisions in an attempt to conform. I tried punishing Cameron a few times as a toddler despite it leaving a bad taste in my mouth. Not to mention the fact that it never worked and only made us more upset and affected our connection.

I tried to conform because it seemed easier than doing something that very few others were doing around me.

Yet it never sat well with me, and thankfully I gave up pretty readily. However, it’s still taken years to sit comfortably enough to not care about judgment.

I’m not saying that my parenting is right. Or that I know what is best. I’m simply saying this:

Don’t conform for the mere fact that you feel alone in your decision. Don’t conform because everyone else is doing it. Don’t conform because it’s easier than defending differences.

I promise you that trusting your instincts – whatever they may be – will feel better in the long run.

These instincts are the one’s that may be separate from your upbringing and you just know are right. But that initial leap to ignore the ever-present thoughts of ‘mainstream parents’ is hard. Because sometimes they’re close to home. Sometimes they’re from a concerned spouse or a close relative, even a bunch of well-meaning friends.

Every parent wants to do the best by their child/ren. Every parent doesn’t want to do something that could be potentially damaging to their child/ren. So the doubt can creep in if you hear enough of the same thing.

But I promise you that you’re not going to regret connecting with your children. You’re not going to regret taking that deep breath and meeting big emotions with compassion and guidance.

Parenting consciously and disciplining gently can be hard. Not only because of working against those habits and conditioning, but because we have our own emotions to contend with. It’s all a learning curve and your children don’t need perfection.

Your children need you. They need their caring parent who takes the time to respect them and to acknowledge their feelings. They need someone who tries to be mindful and who recognises their mistakes.

They just need you. Imperfectly perfect, learning alongside them and helping them to understand the world around them.



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Further reading you may love:

(particularly the top two)

A Love Letter to Mindful Parents of Little Ones – inspiring words from a mindful parent whose children are now teens.

Respectful Parenting – It’s Weird, But It Works!

How to Use Positive Parenting – tips for gentle discipline and boundaries.

An Alternative to Authoritarian vs Permissive Parenting Styles – a straight-forward brilliant short piece on parenting, respect and discipline.

How Children Learn to Behave Without Punishment.

Simple Bubbling Lava Lamp Experiment

Simple Bubbling Lava Lamp Experiment

All you will need:

  • A clear cup or bottle
  • Water coloured with food colouring
  • Vegetable oil
  • Fizzing tablets (alka seltzer)

How to:

  1. Pour in the water and add colour (a great contrasting colour is dark blue!)
  2. Pour the vegetable oil in (50% or more oil). The oil and water will separate! Notice how the oil does not and will not colour.
  3. Break a seltzer tablet in half and drop the half tablet in – watch the bubbly fun begin!
  4. To keep the effect going, just add another tablet piece.
  5. For even more of a lava lamp effect, use on the light table or shine a torch under the cup/bottle!


Montessori Shark Week Ideas

Quick post to share some new shark themed Montessori inspired ideas for Shark Week!!

Shark Week

Shark Pack Printables | Montessori Print Shop Shark Printables

Free Shark Cards with Facts | Montessori Shark Trays


We’ve teamed up with one of our sponsors, Finlee and Me, as well as some other lovely like-minded bloggers, to bring you an incredible giveaway!
3 lucky Australian families will each win a gorgeous Teepee and a pack of Stick-lets.
All you need to do is complete the rafflecopter entry below.

Please Note: The competition is open to all Australian residents and will close August 13 at AEST 7:59pm. See the link at the bottom of the widget for full terms and conditions.


Connect with Nature Giveaway

Soccer | Interest-based Learning

My 4.5 year old lives and breathes football at the moment. It started seriously in February of this year and hasn’t stopped.

Soccer Interest-based Learning | Racheous

I was going to write about how everything our children take interest in has value, but you can read my friend Jessica’s brilliant post on just that.

If you know me, it goes without saying that I’m not sporty. Fostering a love for football certainly isn’t in my bag of tricks. Nevertheless, I nourished this obsession interest and have continuously been blown away by the learning and opportunities that it has bought about.

Cameron is a sensitive child and this sometimes means that it can be difficult for him to be involved in events or new experiences. Yet I watched as my son got dressed up and went to a loud soccer game over and over again.

Soccer game 4 year old interest based learning

It began with apprehension. He cried the first time they got a goal (he has some issues with auditory sensory input) but he was hooked and on a high from the atmosphere before the game was through.

He loves everything about soccer and cannot get enough. It’s a true child-led interest to it’s core. He loves watching it, playing it, talking about it and learning about anything that comes up!

Whistle 4 year old soccer

He learned about the bus and train routes to get to the stadium.

Lucky for him, amongst this interest the World Cup was on. He got up early in the morning to watch almost every game. He learned so many of the countries, the flags, their colours and started to decode how a game unfolds.

It’s such a magical concept to watch as a parent. Seeing my 4 year old point out flags that I didn’t know or wouldn’t have thought to teach him was incredible.


It was so lovely to see him learning and understanding concepts like ‘offside’ and ‘greater than’ as he watched games.

He learned how to do a drop kick and dribble the ball as he played (and played and played) in the backyard with his goal set.

Stopwatch sport play learning homeschool

He times himself with his stopwatch. Side note: This is such a great stopwatch, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s easy to use and has many functions. We have had so much fun timing things and Cameron has started to comprehend seconds and minutes.

Soccer board game orchard children's fun

What does he do when it gets dark and he has to come inside? Out comes the Orchard Toys Football board game which he has played daily since we got it.

orchard football board game

This is authentic learning. This is an engaged child immersing himself in an interest that is meaningful to him. It’s so beautiful to watch and help guide him.

There really wasn’t much needed for me to help this learning to come alive. A book here, a ball there, letting him know when games were on and having his Dad (who played soccer growing up and is a fan himself) there to answer his questions.

I couldn’t stop him if I wanted to.

Z is for Zips | Everyday Fine Motor Materials

Fine Motor Zip Activities | Racheous - Lovable Learning

Today’s activity is part of a series of A to Z everyday fine motor materials from Still Playing School where we each take something simple that is in almost every home and share a fine motor activity for either your toddler or preschooler.

Our everyday material is zips! I want to show you the inspiring ways I’ve seen zippers be used in activities to help strengthen fine motor development!

Montessori DIY dressing frames zipper zips fine motor skills

Like this brilliant DIY Montessori dressing frame alternative. Use an old jacket and an embroidery hoop!

DIY Montessori dressing frames picture frame

Similarly, hot glue old clothing to picture frames for makeshift zip practice!

Clothes Fastenings Board

The clever Craftulate created this felt DIY Clothes Fastenings board which has many fine motor benefits alongside zipping!

Zip bags sorting Montessori activity

I love this Montessori sorting activity with zip bags. This would be so engaging for a child!

Simple zip wallet playsource

The simplest and cheapest option for introducing zipping is with a play wallet.


My favourite zip activity is this zipper board from Laughing Kids Learn. I love that you can glue the zips on angles for wrist rotation and all the colours are so engaging for a toddler!


I love this pattern and these zip pouches – nesting russian fabric dolls. I love that they can be used for size sorting and the zips curve around for trickier maneuvering!

Zipper chair

What about a zipper chair?!


For even simpler everyday fine motor fun – peg some zips to a board for some play! I think this would also be great with colour coordinating pegs and with the children pegging each zip on as part of the activity!

Zipper mouth sewing dinosaur toy

I love the idea of a zipper mouthed toy for fine motor play and a toy in one. Great portable fine motor play!

Lastly, I wanted to show you some quiet book pages that include zips in creative ways. This would be great to foster an interest in zipping and fine motor development!

animal zips

Monkey | Ladybug & Kangaroo | Alligator


How great is this rocket quiet book page! via Imagine Our Life (click through for the pattern and how to!)

zip quiet book
Hidden messages behind zips | Butterfly life cycle zipped | Montessori colour matching

zip quiet book pages
Rain cloud | Tent | Jacket | Truck

I hope that you found something inspiring to explore zips with your kids today!

Catch up on all the Everyday Fine Motor Materials from A to Z here!

Follow Rachel B | Racheous – Lovable Learning’s board Montessori DIY and Thrifting on Pinterest.