The Boston Basics is excited to introduce its newest member, Clara Angelina Diaz! As a mom of a three-year-old, parent educator, author, and life coach, Clara brings a fresh and practical perspective to the team. In our interview, Clara touches on where she learned about the Basics, how she became involved, and what she hopes to contribute.
Clara Angelina Diaz with her three-year-old daughter. Photo credit: Haji Shearer
Hi Clara! Would you mind telling us, what you hope to bring to the team?
The Basics is growing in many different layers - locally, nationally, and internationally. As a team, we are trying to give every child what they deserve - a powerful start. I am so proud to be part of this movement! My contribution is being a multicultural and bilingual resource and model to other parents - to show them that this simple, fun, and powerful approach works. Second, I’ll help to train and coach community leaders such as doctors, nurses, and day care directors to share and model the Basics with every person who cares for a family with children. And I am so excited to be a part of this team!
When did you first hear about the Basics?
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I really wanted to prepare for parenthood. I asked my mentors and other people I respected for ideas. One of my mentors mentioned the Boston Basics as “the thing” to do for kids. After I looked into using the Basics, I started seeing the billboards and subsequently became a bilingual parent educator at Families First, where the Boston Basics is used in their parenting education curriculum. And I use them with my daughter every day.
Fast forward two years, Haji Shearer, The Basics Program Director, visited a parenting class I was teaching. He invited me to speak at the Basics Leadership conference on how I was sharing the Basics with a group of 24 Hispanic mothers. This opportunity was a great alignment for me because not only do I practice the Basics, but now I have the opportunity to have a larger influence in the world by training leaders in this life changing opportunity for children.
Wow, so you knew about the Basics before you gave birth? Now that you have been using the Basics for a few years, which one of the Basics would you say comes most naturally to you?
(Laughs). I don’t know if any of these come naturally to me. Being a great parent is not an easy task. I can tell you which one I enjoy the most because I think all of them require work and a conscious effort.
My favorite is Maximize Love, Manage Stress. One of the suggestions on the tip sheet for this Basic practice is to “have a routine.”
I remember when bedtime was not my favorite part of the day with my daughter. After two years of being a first time parent, I have come to enjoy this part of the day, specifically on Monday nights when her dad works late. He does bedtime mostly every other night now. Angie knows exactly what comes after each step in the routine: dinner, play, bath, pajamas, book and or story time, shadow animals to say good night and a few back rubs.
I have learned to do the following and now enjoy bedtime.
I have learned to prepare internally for this peaceful time, by having a clear cut off time for my work, thinking and home responsibilities. I literally tell myself, “Okay Clara, it’s bedtime. Take a few deep breaths.” Shifting my energy in this way has proven to be effective. My daughter now takes a bath with a smile and leads the routine by reciting to me what is next in the routine.
Preparing the space and including her in the process:
I turn down all the lights after dinner. I tell her that she has a few more minutes to play and I go get the bath ready. I call her into the bathroom to add her own bubbles and her toys. I also play the same song at bath time every night ("A Frog Went a Courtin").
Instead of rushing through the process when I am really tired, I do my best to stay conscious and enjoy it. I take deep breaths and do my best to enjoy what is happening. If I am not genuinely present, she quickly responds with resistance and doesn't want to continue with the routine.
Surprisingly to me, I have come to enjoy bedtime as a time for both of us to slow down, reconnect and finally rest. Maximizing Love and Managing stress is The Basic that has the most impact on my life, my daughter’s life, and our household. The idea that I can give our family permission to be loving and to make stress-reduction intentional is life-changing.
Over time I’ve learned there is a big difference between caring for a child and truly loving a child. It’s not just about her behaving, because it makes my life easier. It’s really about what kind of environment I need to create so that this is a loving space that she can grow in happy and healthy from the inside out.
So the Basics made you think more about having an intentional loving relationship?
Absolutely. They didn’t just help me think about it. The Basics affirmed that for me. The Basics were developed by the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University and each of the five is firmly based on science. We already know in our hearts that love is the way. Maximizing love for your child and shielding them from stress is the first step to connecting with them.
Culturally a lot of people may say you will spoil your child. But my partner and I have decided to parent differently. Because of the Basics, we know it’s important to pay attention to our daughter’s emotions. We pride ourselves in creating an environment of love for the family.
It's cool that you are able to use the Basics to help you deal with life's pressures. Would you mind sharing which of the five is most challenging?
Definitely, explore through movement and play.
We play a lot at home, but sometimes I like to find places outside of my home to play. Especially now that it’s winter, I have to go out of my way to find indoor playgrounds and ways to be physically active outside of the house. The indoor malls, moms’ groups, libraries, gyms, and YMCA’s are great places for parents who want to give their children a variety of play experiences.
It takes a little bit more effort to not stay home in the cold.
I also really love organization and cleanliness (laughs). And when you have a child, you kind of have to let that go. That has been a challenge for me and also an opportunity to stretch my creativity.
Thanks for being honest about your parenting journey and welcome to the Boston Basics Team!
Watch our videos to learn more about Clara’s favorite Basic, Maximize Love, Manage Stress. This interview was conducted by Dominique, blogger behind DommiesBlessed. To learn more about Clara, visit her website.