Culture + Community

Early Riser Companion | Your Guide to Rituals for Childhood

by | Jan 2, 2019

 

 

Rituals define our days; some are considered – like the baths we take or the candles we light around the moon cycles, and others become second nature – such as the processes that go into our waking routines or the steps we take before bed. Rituals are defined as “a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order.”  Elizabeth Antonia, creator behind The Littlest wants to help parents invite rituals into their children’s lives with her new book, Early Riser Companion. Her offering is an indispensable family resource book filled with songs, rhymes, recipes and ideas for rituals and rhythms to layer into your home. It is a book for the new parent – a treasure for someone already along the parenting path, a spark of inspiration towards more growth and perspective. We got the opportunity to catch up with Elizabeth and talk about the creative process behind this labor of love, her inspirations, and advice to new moms.

 

What inspired your beautiful book, Early Riser Companion?
Over the past ten years of mothering, I have learned through tears and isolation the importance of nurturing community as well as creating a sanctuary of home. These lessons are ongoing and have taught me that this present moment is the most important one that we have. And that every day we have a perfect new day to try again. 

When you are a new parent, there isn’t a lot of time for reading. I wanted to create something that you could pick up and thumb through easily that leaves you feeling inspired and refreshed. It is the book that I wish I had been handed with the birth of my first child. It’s the What to Expect When You are Expecting for the first seven years of childhood. But instead of how to nurture your child body and mind, it discusses how we nurture the spirit of our children and the soul of our family. 

I have worked diligently over the past five years on this book. Never once has the vision or the purpose wavered. During this time I have walked through seasons of loss and grief and seasons of joy and celebration. During this time, my daughters learned to crawl, walk, and then, finally, run. Through all of these seasons, I have stopped to remind myself ‘Look how wonderful it is that I am here right now.’ I think it’s easy to forget that we are all walking this planet at this exact time and juncture of history. In my humble opinion, it isn’t by chance that we are here. The season of childhood is truly the beginning of the wonder years. I don’t think they ever have to end if you bring it into your consciousness that being alive is wondrous. This book is my wish for the world to see how beautiful it can be to see ourselves through the lens of a child and to also see our children as whole beings waiting to unfold. 

What made you decide to forgo a traditional publishing company and instead kickstart your own self-publishing?
I had thought long and hard and done a lot of research in foregoing a traditional publisher for Early Riser Companion. For one, I wanted full creative control over this project. I didn’t want to have to spell it out or target it to everyone. It isn’t for everyone. I trust it will make it’s way into the right hands. All of my favorite books have some mystery and also surprise and delight. Two, the environmental impact of publishing more than one needs is important to me. I have never had a “product” and, now that I have one, I want to be thoughtful of it’s impact in our world. 

And now, it is time for Early Riser Companion to come into this world. I could not have done this without my many creative friends and contributors who have listened to my idea and gave a wholehearted YES.

What is an example of one of the family rituals contained in your book?
A strong bedtime ritual is important to the family. For young children, letting go into sleep can cause such apprehension. Children truly have no idea where they are going when they shut their eyes for sleep. It’s slightly terrifying if you think about it from their perspective! I’ve experienced it all: sleeping together, sleeping on the floor by the crib (holding her hand), nursing all night and feeling like a zombie. But it came down to self-preservation that we decided to be consistent in our rhythm. 

Every night we say, ‘A story, a song and a prayer. Off to dreamland, I’ll meet you there.’ Book. Song. Candle. Prayer. We ask ‘What are we going to be in dreamland?’ Some nights we ride dolphins and swim with mermaids. Other nights we float on clouds or become a pegasus. The biggest part is that we are going to meet soon. Before they wake. 

What is a little piece of wisdom that you know now in your current phase of motherhood that you wish you’d known as a new mother?
There is a lot of language around how children act (usually in regards to “bad” behavior) that is really damaging in my opinion – tantrums, terrible twos, threenager. It’s all said in fun most of the time, but those ideas have really stuck in popular culture. Even as adults, we have a hard time regulating our emotions and so much of our children’s tantrums or disregulation comes from being tired, hungry, or from body temperature. All disregulation will pass, just as our moods pass as well. I wish someone had told me in the beginning to ride it out. Let it pass through, don’t internalize it, it’s just a passing squall. Sun follows rain and bad weather doesn’t last forever. It’s such a beautiful thing to know!

How do you think that becoming a mother has changed you?
I think it really focused me in a way, as hours become more finite when you are caring for others day in and day out. It has also taught me that we are all at different stages of our learning. Some people learn about death and loss at an early age, some get those lessons quite late in life. My sister became a mother years before I did and, when I finally became a mother, I felt so horrible that I hadn’t helped her more. You just don’t know until you know. I think I’m a much more patient and compassionate person for learning this lesson. I don’t know if I have learned it because I’m a mother or because I am getting older. Whatever the reason, I’m happier for it. 


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