parent blog

Spiritually Preparing to be a Parent

Wise words from Nia House parent, Pearly Tan.


Becoming a parent takes more spiritual preparation than physical preparation. These little bundles require pretty little material things to begin with. We found a cheap crib we never used, acquired a changing table and playmat someone else was throwing out, and got lots of clothes and diapers from people who had an excess. I was lucky to be able to nurse our child and never used bottles or pacifiers. Just as well that our little person was so minimalistically needy, since we didn’t have a baby shower, and didn’t have a fat bank account to reach into.

Instead, what needed more adjustment was our lifestyle and mindset. My husband is a business owner, and I am an investigative journalist and book writer. We love our work and work a lot, and even take pleasure in working beside each other on our own work. Here are some of the things I had to think about to prepare spiritually for parenthood:

Take time and take space to reorganize your priorities:

As soon as I had a child, I knew she would come first. I’ve always wanted a family, but what it meant to put the child first meant having to do research.

I knew I’d still have to help out at the family business, while continuing to work on my book, but still caring for my new human. As capable as I wanted to think I was, I knew I needed to look at resources. That was when I found out about portable pack-and-plays, baby carriers, and baby hammocks, all of which she used in our store while we worked and integrated her into our everyday life.

She ate with me, slept with me, and played with me. But when I needed space, or when my husband recognized that I needed space, he took over. Occasionally even, the child didn’t come first, my partner did. He taught me this. He reminded me that my health was as important as the child’s, and had a great influence on our new creation.

The grand ambition of reading:

Like most first time moms, I thought I would read. I promised to read. I gathered books on motherhood, childhood illnesses, breastfeeding, being a good partner, responsible parenting, how to raise a grateful child. I didn’t read a single one. They cluttered my windowsill and made me alternate between anxious nervous and calm. When my daughter turned one, I gave them all to the next first-time mom.

It’s ok not to read. But, be resourceful.

Instead, I prepared my heart for the unexpected. I began looking at articles about what not feed the baby, when to introduce solids, and how not to believe Dr. Google implicitly.

Part of the spiritual preparation of being a mother is being comfortable not knowing it all. Accept that you can be surprised, that you don’t know everything, and that it’s ok to ask. But set up a support system you trust to help you with answers, place your advice nurse on speed dial, and be prepared to acknowledge that your mother was right in many ways.

Prepare your spirit:

You’ll think you’ve got it down. Prepare your spirit.

You’ll plan to be a Montessori parent. Prepare your spirit.

You’ll believe your friendships won’t change at all. Prepare your spirit.

The bottom line is, remember that your little person has a spirit of their own. They’re changing even as you change. What works for one child, may not work with another. You may have no allergies, and your child have several. You may be a daredevil, with a cautious child. You may be an extrovert that enjoys dinner parties, while your child would rather read quietly in their room. There are many ways in which your child may be quite different from you, and if you’re not prepared for all the differences (that will exist even where there are great similarities), you may feel disappointed in your child, and this will affect your family.

You may have dreamed of continuing your path as a career woman after having a child, your company may not think the same way. Prepare your spirit.

You may have plans to nurse your child. Prepare your spirit.

One of the biggest lessons we learn as parents, is that there is no one way to do anything. There isn’t a single way to be a parent. A stay-at-home mother doesn’t have an easier job than a working mom, a bottle-fed baby is not better or worse off than a child who is breastfed.

Before the arrival of your child, it’s important to come to an understanding of your beliefs, and the loopholes in them. Identify the people around you who truly have you and your family’s best interests at heart, and hear their words and offers of help in a constructive manner.

Easy Art

Mom of Nia House toddler, Kaya (and also Sienna and Evangaline), Morgan knows how to make art engaging and easy. Thanks for your blog post, Morgan!

I don’t know about you but I love a low prep, fast, and easy project that keeps my little ones occupied and learning. Here are some of my favorite art projects for toddlers and preschoolers.

No Mess Water Painting


  • 1 container of water

  • 1 paintbrush

  • A surface that changes color when wet such as concrete, wood, colored construction paper

This is my favorite type of art project because it is waste-free, can be done outside and is mess free! All you do is dip the dry paintbrush in water and then “paint” using the water on the ground, fence, or sidewalk. Here’s a picture of Kaya in action:

kaya paintng.jpg

Non-paintbrush Painting


  • a few q-tips

  • paint

  • Construction paper or paper plate

Using something other than a paintbrush to make art is extra fun for kids. Just dab the q-tip into paint and then dab on paper. In the past, I have used white paint and used this method to make “snow” for a fun winter art project or, like my oldest daughter (who is much more methodical), use this method to make more of a mosaic style picture.

Other Variations on tools to paint with:

  • An apple cut in half (it will make a cool star shape if sliced the right way)

  • A carrot

  • A fork (you can make lines like you’re raking the picture)

  • An old sponge cut into cool shapes

  • A lego (use it like a stamp)

  • A  marble (roll it around in a container that has paint and paper in it)

Here’s a cool link with other creative painting tool ideas:

Recycled Paper Collage


  • Any and all scrap paper materials

  • Gluestick

  • Cardboard or sturdy construction paper to glue to

Feeling guilty about all the wasted paper during art time with the kiddos? Use scrap paper (we love to use old circulars, junk mail,  or any other materials we find in the recycling bin), and get your fine motor on by tearing up the paper into small pieces and turning it into a work of art using a glue stick to glue the pieces onto a new piece of paper. You can also stick with the recycled theme and simply glue onto a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll for an awesome telescope! If you want to get fancy and not so “green”, tissue paper is a great material to use and can make awesome gifts like this one:

Image from:

Image from:

Less Stuff, More Joy

Cindy Tsai-Schultz (Alison’s mom) strikes again with a witty and inspiring blog. She shows the way supporting Nia House’s Yard Sale can bring you joy in life. Thank you, Cindy.

With four hours left before Alison and I needed to board a flight to Colorado, nothing was ready. Snow and ski gear strewn on the floor of our bedroom.   I was cranky and sweaty and I needed to make lunch for the kids, walk the dog, clean the house and finish doing laundry so I can pack for the trip. Peter was in LA and was going to meet us in Colorado in a few days so I was solo with tons of snow and ski gear and kid for this trip.

FEAR overtook and I FREAKED.

I pulled it together and packed for Alison: regular clothes, ski clothes, ski gear, books, dolls, crafts, car seat, food for the plane, and iPad. Check.

Packing for myself was less than stellar. I did pack ski essentials – skis, boots, poles, snow jacket and pants, socks. The rest, not so good. 10 days in Vail with one t-shirt, one yoga pant, and a sweater and the clothes I wore on the plane.

But once we got to our final destination, the freak-out was long from my memory. Even with my poor packing skills. Vail was awesome.

This morning after hitting the snooze button one too many times, I was looking around and I realized that we have a lot of stuff. And most of what I do in my spare time is managing stuff. I am the official family stuff getter and stuff manager. And I’m don’t like it.

This got me thinking. In Vail, we were in a very small condo. There wasn’t much room for stuff, which was good because we didn’t have much stuff. The grocery store was a 3.5 mile walk (we didn’t have a car) so we went once, stocked up and cooked what we had. When we weren’t on the slopes, we had a great time – talking, eating, and playing. No one felt deprived, bored, or hungry.

Can I bring some of that back to Berkeley? Can I spend most of my spare time talking, eating and playing instead of being the stuff manager?

I’ve been reading The Sweet Spot, Finding Your Groove at Home and Work by Christine Carter (Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley). One of the take away messages is – we make too many decisions in our daily lives. We need to save our brainpower for the larger and more important decisions and the small less important stuff can be on autopilot.   For example, what we wear. We have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear. Christine Carter suggests designing your clothing around a “uniform.” The rest goes away.

Marie Kondo, the new organizational guru from Japan says to discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting discard for their service.

Thank you stuff for your service. Good-bye. More joy, less stuff.

This morning, I put large plastic bins around the house. If there’s something that I haven’t used, don’t wear, or doesn’t spark joy it’s going in the bin and going to Nia House for the Annual Yard Sale.

The Yard Sale is May 2, less than a month away. 

Clean out your closets and have more joy.

Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings are special times at our house. We are greeted in bed by our 3 and 6 yr olds! We aren’t in a hurry to eat, get dressed, grab lunch boxes and get out the door as part of our regular routine. So, It’s our time to relax. While in bed, we then discuss what we want to make together for breakfast. Most Sunday mornings the decision is bacon and eggs, pancakes, waffles or muffins. Willem and Evelyn are really great helpers (after some initial work!) and can almost make it themselves. They know most of the ingredients, where to get the mixing bowl and spoon, the measuring cups and stools or chairs so they can properly do their job! As they grow, their level of skill and independence has also increased. We then enjoy our delicious breakfast while we talk about our plans for the day. It’s a great way to start the morning!

Thank you, Jeff, Laurin, Willem, and Evelyn for sharing your Sunday morning with Nia House! It would be fun to hear from the community- How do you do Sundays?