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New World Library Unshelved

New World Library Unshelved

Positive news and inspiring views from the New World Library community

Thursday, August 18, 2016
As the oldest of seven Montessori-educated children, Renée Trudeau has seen firsthand how parenting with a down-to-earth and empowered style can create harmony and flow in the stress and chaos of family life. Her book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, offers strategies for stressing less and flowing more, especially in the hectic first weeks of the school year. We hope you’ll enjoy this guest blog from Renée Trudeau, based on her guidebook for spiritual and emotional renewal.

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It’s 1976. I’m in fifth grade and standing by our front door with my red plaid backpack. My eyes scanning, I watch my four younger brothers dart from room to room. My stomach is in knots. It’s 7:45 a.m. We should have left fifteen minutes ago. Lunches are half-made, my brothers are shooting slingshots, and my mom — never a morning person — is admonishing my dad, our morning chauffeur, about forgetting to pay a bill. Our orange VW van pulls up late to the Montessori school and my siblings and I tumble out, rattled. We scatter to our classrooms. I look back and see my dad hunched over the wheel eating Grape-Nuts out of a measuring cup, the car turned off. His jaw is clenched; his brow is knit with stress. God bless him. 

Growing up I remember my family’s morning routine being a three-ring circus. Perhaps this is unavoidable when you grow up in a big family — I’m the oldest of seven!

When I became a parent, I really wanted to do it differently. Today, as a life balance coach and parent, I know that the morning start can set the tone for the entire day.  I begin every new school year by asking, “What things can we do to support our family in experiencing less stress and more flow in the coming weeks and year?” Transitions can be stressful and family life is messy, but taking a bit of time to reflect on your intention for this fresh start can make a big difference. 

Here are seven things my family have found helpful in setting the course for a flowing fall:

  1. Pause to ask your family what worked and what didn’t last school year. My husband and I have been discussing the root causes for some of the stress we experienced with our teenage son last spring. We identified three things that we’re addressing with him so we don’t repeat these patterns and we’re soliciting his ideas, too. Ahhhh, I feel better already!

  2. Create a vision by setting your intention for the fall. How do you want to experience school mornings and evenings? What words come to mind? Does anyone in your family have special needs this fall (a career transition, health challenge, or learning disability) that require extra attention? Some families even like to come up with a mantra or theme for the year. 

  3. Don’t overschedule yourself or your kids. When we do less, we experience more joy, freedom, and connection with our loved ones. Learning to say no is one of the most helpful skills you can master.

  4. Create structure so you can flow. I know many of us love and value spontaneity (including me), but a little planning can result in a greater sense of ease because everyone knows what to expect. Maybe Monday is Funday (i.e., dessert night or Scrabble after dinner), Sunday evenings are for planning out the week’s driving and activity schedule, or you use a bulletin board in your kitchen to post the month’s calendar that includes everyone’s upcoming activities. Plan ahead so you can create pockets of unscheduled time. 

  5. Get the support you need. Anticipate and plan for what type of personal, family, and professional support you and your kids may need this fall (parenting coach, meal prep, carpooling, or a career mentor). Reach out and ask for help — support makes all the difference in how you experience the journey.

  6. Make self-nourishment a priority. Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual renewal are essential to your happiness and well-being. Think about, maybe list, what  nourishes your family most: camping trips, family game nights, weekend getaways, unscheduled Sundays, or nature walks in your favorite woods. Schedule these respites from daily obligations now and make them a priority. 

  7. Communicate the plan. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, kids like to know that “we’re all in this together” and their voice matters. Take time to solicit their input (What DO you want for breakfast?), ask them to help engage in problem solving (What are your ideas to promote a better sleep routine?), and then write down some of your collective decisions and guidelines so you’ll all remember them. This can create feelings of camaraderie and cohesiveness. 
Even if you just adopted one of these strategies, it could make a huge difference in how you experience the launch of the school year. Change can be challenging for many personality types. Be easy on yourself and remember, people first, things second. Sometimes we’re hardest on those that we love the most.

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Renée Peterson Trudeau is an internationally recognized life-balance coach, speaker, and author of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, US News and World Report, Good Housekeeping, AARP, and more. 

Thousands of women around the globe are participating in self-renewal groups for women based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. Renée lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. Visit her online at


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