Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there, working hard to make sure their children are nourished and well-cared for. Today, we celebrate you and all the mothers who came before us. Today, we also honour our Mother Earth.
Many of you reading this likely have a paying job, as well as working full-time as a Mom. Like our Founder Lovena Harvey, you might even be an entrepreneur who is running her own business. Lovena’s children are now almost all fully-grown, but when she and her husband Ryan created Gathering Place nearly twenty years ago, she had a four-year-old, a one-year-old, and a third who would arrive a few years later. It was a busy time!
We know how overwhelming life can get for Moms who are also working, either for someone else or themselves. On this Mother’s Day, we want to do a special shout-out to all the busy Moms out there by offering a few tips on creative ways to engage your children while also taking care of yourself at the same time.
First off, we want to say that we know there is no magic formula or easy solution to the struggles that modern mothers face. But we hope you might find some inspiration from some of these ideas, tried and tested by Lovena over the years!
Involve your kids in your work or your business. Kids want to know that our work is not more important than them. Giving them small jobs like stamping envelopes can make them feel needed and involved. Whenever Lovena’s youngest slipped away from her Dad or her home-schooling siblings to find her Mama, Lovena would put her to work doing a simple task. To this day, her daughter will say that she always felt like she was doing something really important for the business. She even made her own cardboard laptop and would sit next to Lovena, pretending to type. “Having your kids in the office doesn’t always work, but for short bursts, it’s good for them to see you working and understand what you’re doing. Give them a job, however menial or small.”
Empower your kids with information and knowledge. Lovena and Ryan have always talked about the business with their kids. It is a family business after all! And they weren’t shy about bringing them to farmer’s markets or trade shows and putting them to work either. Their kids learned how to interact with adults, how to set up and take down a product table, and how to deal with money and make change. “Whenever our kids were at a market with us, people would be dazzled by them,” says Lovena, who watched her kids’ confidence grow as each year passed. “I remember the first time that Ryan and I were able to walk away from the table and leave the kids in charge. We looked back at all three of them engaged with three different customers and were just flabbergasted.”
Get the support you need. Despite societal messages to the contrary, you can’t do it all! Make sure your kids understand that it takes a whole family to keep a household running. “Our kids were always involved in the upkeep of our home and homestead,” says Lovena. Making meals, planting the peas, raking leaves. One of Lovena’s favourite strategies was setting a timer and seeing how fast everyone could work. How much better can the house look if we each tidy for 10 minutes? Who can pick the most berries in five minutes? “The kids loved that game and it kept the enthusiasm high,” says Lovena. “We were trying to teach them the value of hard work but wanted to make it fun at the same time.”
Schedule time away from work and do special things with your kids. Make sure your kids feel like spending time with them is as much a priority as your work. Go swimming. Have a tea party outside with the stuffed animals. Climb trees. Read together. Explore a new place.
Do self-care in front of your kids. In the same way that you might be involving your kids with household or business chores, make sure to let them see what you do for self-care too. It’s likely that some of the same things you need for balance are things your kids will benefit from too. One of Lovena’s kids always wanted to do yoga with her and still enjoys that. Another of her kids wanted to go on long hikes. And everyone loved the impromptu family dances!
Embrace the life you want with children. Having kids doesn’t have to change everything. “I’ve met so many people who put their lives and dreams on hold when they have kids,” says Lovena. For instance, so many people want desperately to travel, but are afraid to do it with kids. “My advice to those people would be: don’t think about it too much, just do it. Don’t treat your child like a fine piece of china. Involve your kids in everything you do, including travel.” Lovena and Ryan took their kids on most of their sourcing trips, visiting over 20 countries with them. “For us, the list of benefits was endless. Not only were our kids immersed in new cultures, but they were witnessing how we choose our farmers and our products and also developing awareness of different races and socioeconomic realities.”
Honour Mother Earth. Recognizing the Earth’s significant days, such as the Solstices, Equinoxes, and full and new moons is a way to teach our children respect and reverence for our planet and also more of a connection to our Earth Mama. Build an altar. Sing songs or create a seasonal dance. Make up new traditions or ceremonies. Play like no one is watching!
We hope this list brought a smile to your face and some inspiration to your heart. Enjoy this day that celebrates mothers everywhere!