The Conscious Family Team is a team of professionals in York Region who support, guide and aid those who want to do their best each day to love, cherish and respect their children, and who want to learn and grow from their roles.

Giving birth and raising a family consciously used to be a matter of instinct. We trusted our bodies and our feelings to do the right thing. We learned from our families, and our communities how to care for and raise our children, and we just knew it would be okay. We had the support of those close to us - the village helped us to raise our children. There was no internet, no 24 - hour medical centres or helplines, and no bookshelf stocked with 50 or so of the latest advice books from "the experts", usually celebrities. Mom was at home during the day to lend a hand with the washing, or your neighbour would pop by with a casserole when times were tough.

These days, we're lucky to know our neighbour's first name. And if we need advice, we're more likely to consult Google than our brother, sister or mother. The village is truly gone.

Here with the Conscious Family Team, we want to bring the good days back by being your village and helping your family and village grow.

We believe that in order to accomplish these tasks, parenting must be a conscious endeavour, meaning that we are willing to examine ourselves, our background, beliefs, motivations, behaviours, and how these aspects affect the way we parent. Let's find the positives in the way we were parented, recognize the lessons we learned and empower ourselves to trust our own intuition and emerge as the parents we want to be.

Decisions made prior to conception, during pregnancy and in baby's first year and beyond provide the foundation for the creation of a conscious family. By consulting with one or more of the Conscious Family Team members, you will be inspired to take initiative to choose the style of caring for yourself and your infant/child that resonates with you and you'll be connected to the tangible tools and resources to support you on your journey.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Go Green - Breastfeed

What does breastfeeding have to do with Earth Day?

First and foremost, it has a zero environmental impact. Its exclusive practice for six months delays a return to fertility and, that in turn, has a cascading positive effect on the welfare of the whole community. When a mother is given what she needs to succeed in doing what's best for her children and herself, she's making a difference for all of us.

Breastfeeding saves lives while protecting the environment. When you consider the costs to the environment made by the manufacture, packaging, transportation, sales and marketing of artificial baby milks, breastfeeding wins every time.

Formula requires agricultural production, which may involve land clearing for industrial farming, chemical fertilizers and pesticides for soybeans. Infant formula is also wasted when it is thrown away if the baby does not finish a bottle; something which is unlikely to happen with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is also drought resistant and does not require water other than what the mother drinks. There is no need for water for cleaning bottles and artificial nipples. Being breastfed also protects infants from possible exposure to dirty water in underserved communities.

Beastfeeding is "green" and saves money. Frequent breastfeeding, day and night, helps delay fertility return for the mother until her menses resume. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method is as effective as oral contraceptives when in use, reducing the need to purchase contraceptives and menstral care products for many months. Increasing the time between each child also has a positive effect on the health of mothers, children, and their families and on the social service dollar for the whole community. All in all, breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, saves money by reducing our need for many commercial products, reduces pharmaceuticals, plastics, fuels and dairy waste products, shrinking our carbon footprint.

We all have a stake in this, locally, nationally, globally. Human milk remains one of our most valuable renewable resources and has been shown to be the far superior food for infants by every measure science has been able to offer. Simply respecting the wishes of breastfeeding families and offering a few words of encouragement can make a positive difference in their lives and ours as well.

Parents planning to breastfeed benefit greatly from prenatal education, nurturing and timely support by the newborn's household kin, extended family and the community at large. Support groups like La Leche League offer informtion and support to women and their families interested in breastfeding. Healthcare professionals including International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and York Region Health Services are also available to address breastfeeding issues.

Breastfeeding - the ultimate example of an ecologically sound food -- it comes to us from the most local source available, is delivered to its consumer without any pollution, and is the first step in a baby's understanding of nature's interconnectedness.

Denise is the owner/operator of 4 The Love of The Family, providing birth and postnatal support and breastfeeding support. She is also a La Leche League Canada Leader

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

TV can shorten your life

Did you know that TV can actually shorten your life. Researchers in Australia studied a group of 9,000 individuals. They were separated into 3 groups. 1. Those that watch more than 4 hours of TV a day, 2. Those that watch between 2 and 4 hours and 3. those that watch less than 2 hours a day. In the end the group that watched 4 or more hours was 80% more likely to develop deadly heart disease than those in the less than 2 hour group. 80 percent! That is huge. The explanation seems to be related to the act of sitting. People are sitting too much in their daily lives. We move from sitting at a desk at the office to sitting in front of the TV at night. This could be expanded to screen time in general.

Do you know that on average people watch over 4 hours of TV and spend another 4 hours on the computer/video games - that's per day. If you sleep for 8 hours that means you are spending half of your waking time in front of a screen (or all of your leisure time if you work 8 hours a day!!). It also means that we are in deep trouble if we don't help our kids stop the trend. For more information about how this in affecting us check out the book the Plug-In Drug.

Why not spend a week in digital detox. (Actually the official digital detox week started on Monday April 19th and it ends Sunday April 25th.) That means spend the week eliminating non-essential screen time. (That is outside of the work environment) No facebook, no twitter, no computer games, no TV. Go out and talk to your neighbours. Walk or ride your bike. Get reconnected with the outside world.

Here are a couple more media-free activities:

1. Make a big indoor tent and sleep in it.
2. Go on a scavenger hunt.
3. Visit the library.
4. Daydream.
5. Throw a party to celebrate digital detox week!

Until next time,

Tara Annesley is a Naturopathic Doctor at Rise Up For Health. She is passionate about health in general and especially for families. With a special interest in fertility and birth she helps families take an active role in their health. For more information please visit our website

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Honouring the Journey

With this beautiful Spring weather upon us, I began thinking about how Mother Earth is awakening from her slumber and in doing so, many wondrous friends from the plant and animal worlds are shyly peeking out at us, getting ready to show us their magnificence. And even though we know for sure that Spring arrives every single year, this beautiful display of rebirth and return never gets old. Each year, Mother Earth, the plants, trees, grass, and all our animal creature friends give each other what they need, and in doing so, exemplify symbiosis at its best. The plants' roots stretch ever deeper into the soil giving the plant or tree strength, stability and durability during challenging times. Animals gamely makes nests, emerge from burrows and procreate to ensure the continuation of their respective species. When the wind is up, rain a bit sparse, or nests are found by unsuspecting predators, these amazing life forms can adapt and survive. This is what we parents do for our children. We ground their roots, give them courage and confidence, we honour their journey without attaching our own to it, we listen more and talk less, and we endeavour to be present, fully present to their hopes, their dreams, their ideas, and their worries. But have you noticed how Mother Earth does not attempt to save every single creature from unfortunate circumstances? She simply can't and besides, she knows in her wisdom that every life being has its own journey. Once again we have so much to learn from our collective Mother; she is so very wise. We must remember that we don't own our children; they are not "ours". They merely pass through us during their time on Mother Earth. We cannot save our children from anything, anyway. Oh, sure we can guide them, we can share our viewpoints with them, we can ask questions, and we can even agree to disagree. But if we want our children to keep coming back to us, like Spring comes back each year, we must promise to give our children what they want from us, and not what we think they need. If the foundation of the relationship is strong, we can feel safe watching our children venture out, confidently, into the world where it awaits them with possibilities we cannot even begin to imagine! And if we've done our work, they will come back to us, like the Spring, with the most magnificent stories to share.

Christine Marrin is the owner of, "Christine Marrin~Spiritual Parenting". She is a former elementary teacher and has relished her role as mom for almost ten years. She has realized that her most profound learning has been at the hands of her children. Walking beside them and sharing their journies has been spiritually fulfilling in a way she never imagined. For more information on Spiritual Parenting, she can be reached at 905-836-6877 or