Hi everyone! This week I am so thrilled to be interviewing Nicolette Sowder from Wilder Child. If you don’t know Nicolette, you really should get familiar with her and her community…
Nicolette leads an amazing community for those who are really passionate about raising a wilder child and getting back to nature with their children.
So Nicolette, hi! And thank you so much for being here.
Nicolette Sowder: Hi, thank you so much for having me on, I’m so excited.
Ashley: So, Nicolette…
Could you start by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself and your mission and how you got started with Wilder Child?
Nicolette: Sure, so right now, I live with my husband and my two little girls and we’re wild schooling on sixty acres in Michigan. We actually run a pastured farm, but we weren’t always here. We were on a trip five and a half years ago… the time’s gone so fast… but so much has been packed into such a small amount of time. So we moved from Northwest Indiana — it was really like a satellite suburb outside Chicago — so we did have a little bit of property, but once we moved here, I mean, we are now just surrounded by nature.
I always grew up appreciating nature with my parents, so that really instilled some key values within me. This was all enhanced when I got here, just us being dominated by nature. It was all around us, and I was able to form such a close relationship with our animals. At that time I had my one year old, my daughter who now is almost six (which I can’t believe!), but when we came here she was one. It just had such a profound impact on me being in this environment with her. I felt like I really had to start writing about it.
I think that’s how a lot of bloggers start, with trying to express this totally transformational experience that you’re having with your children.
This was all enhanced with us being really with mother nature as well. I like to think of her now as the third parent. So this whole experience was mind-blowing, I thought I had to write about it. Then it became so much bigger than me. It just felt like there were so many parents who just wanted to talk about it, talk about how to reintegrate and heal that bond with nature from a parenting perspective.
I feel like at that time, there was a lot of nature-based educational information, although there wasn’t that much in the parenting context. That’s really where Wilder Child has moved and really, really speaks. That’s my passion, it’s working with parents, working with families.
Ashley: You know, I think this is such an interesting story because you had this experience growing up yourself as a child who was very connected to nature. It’s not just something that you’re interested in on your own, but that your parents really encouraged. Then when you became a parent yourself, it sounds like it was almost not only about creating this connection for your own child but also in some ways, it was maybe a reconnection for yourself and learning to understand the natural world in a different way, through a parent’s eyes.
Nicolette: Oh my gosh, that’s exactly what it was like.
The role of nature and how it fits into your parenting life is a very special and very different thing to just nature on its own when you’re growing up.
There’s a completely different energy when you’re growing up, and I think you tend to miss a few things. It’s still immersive when you’re a child and it’s so instinctual, that connection with nature, it almost goes unacknowledged. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it just is. Mother nature should’ve always been with you, then and now. It’s just that now, mother nature has become much more of a support system for me, one that I am fully able to appreciate and acknowledge.
Everyday, I’m more and more thankful, more and more aware of the role that Mother Nature is playing in my life.
Ashley: Sure, that’s so beautiful. I’m not a parent myself but I remember spending so many days as a kid. It just used to be a little different, I think, for many people. I can remember making little mud pies in the backyard and picking little clovers out of the grass and tying them together in little chains so I could wear them as a necklace or a little crown on my head. I remember learning about wild flowers with my grandfather.
Honestly, I do think those things are missing for so many kids today, and I just wanna say I’m so thankful and grateful that you have created a community and a space for parents to come together and learn from one another. You’ve created a place where they can share and support each other, reconnect with nature and help their children to find this important connection.
I know for a fact, nature is one of the things that really, truly, inspired and shaped the person that I am today.
I think that many people who have that connection as children take it into their adolescence and well into adulthood. They maintain the lessons that they learn during that time, so I just have to give you a big round of applause and a lot of gratitude for what you’re doing.
Nicolette: Well, it’s the community, it’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s only gotten that way because of them. I’m holding the space but the community is just filling it with life. So, it’s been incredible to reconnect to something, because I think sometimes we get nature fed up to us. I think it’s almost done by accident, it’s like a comodification of nature.
So you’re always talking about the benefits and what it can do for you and all these images, like consumption… what’s the best trail and all that. It’s valid, and I understand, I’ve talked about mother nature that way too. But there’s this other dimension to it. It’s like the relationship that you’re talking about when you were little and making the daisy chains, and then your relationship matures and grows, just like a real relationship. I think that’s something that Wilder Child and Wild Schooling is trying to get back to. It’s an ancient thing, this isn’t anything new, it’s just that that mindset can be so difficult to break.
Ashley: That’s so true.
I love how you are shifting that modern view away from treating nature like a commodity and always thinking about what we can get from it.
You’re looking at ways we can teach kids to live in harmony with nature. I also love that you refer to nature as the third parent. I think that’s a really innovative and exciting way to approach this relationship.
So, for everyone listening, they know that most times on this podcast we tend to talk about crystals, but we always like to frame these things in a new and exciting way. I was so happy to get to talk to you because we really haven’t gotten to touch on working with crystals with our children. And so, I wanted to know from your point of view, given that you have this really beautiful perspective…
Why do you think it’s so important for kids to connect with different aspects of nature, like crystals and the moon? And why is this so important for their development, their relationship with the natural world, and for who they become?
Nicolette: Well, I think we have a tendency to really keep our kids in the human world. So when we talk about their friends, we’re always talking about their human friends. When we’re talking about the places they like to go, we’re often talking about the places that humans have developed and designed and created. Basically, what we’re doing is keeping them and ourselves inside of a human paradigm, which really is so limiting.
When you go out into nature, the diversity is astounding. You’re having children learn from wisdom that is billions of years old. I mean, you’re getting that kind of information and that kind of education that I can’t believe we leave out almost completely from conventional education.
So for children, if we hold the space and we know how to service and guide the stones, the trees, the animals, and the plants that the children are encountering, those bonds — although we often cannot see it because we, as adults, do not remember or have never experienced having this kind of connection — those are their peers, their friends. They are learning just as much from the signature of each of those things as with anything in our human world. So, to answer your question, I feel like we’re denying them diversity if we don’t teach them this way. It is so important for kids to have that connection with nature, crystals and the moon.
I can see parents everywhere saying we want our children to have a rich, diverse life. One that’s actually connected to their biology, nature, crystals and the moon.
Those are all facets of mother nature that the children are designed to learn from and grow from.
Ashley: Yeah. Let me ask you then a little more specifically…
What are some of your favorite ways to help kids get more connected with crystals? How can we really introduce crystal healing or a connection to stones as companions to kids?
Nicolette: Well, I think they naturally have it — I always did. I have always been drawn to so many kits, stones, rocks, and crystals. I would keep them in my pockets, keep them everywhere. My kids do the same thing. So it’s about, I think, having a level of awareness and just nurturing that and again, holding a space for that.
We do that through a couple of different ways, for example through nature tables. If anybody out there doesn’t know what a nature table is, it’s just exactly what it sounds like. It’s just like a little area of your house, it doesn’t have to be big, just a little window sill or a little shelf or a little table that changes with the season. So for us, actually the fairies come the night before the solstices and the equinoxes and they actually change the nature table.
For a nature table, we get little things from outside, things from that season, and we’ll bring them in to put together a collection.
So for the fall we’ll probably have black walnuts and I have a little silk that is the colors of the season and little yarn, figurines, etc. Then there’s always a book there and always water. I do a jam essence water for each one of the seasons.
We also always have our moonstone there, as well as a stone that represents the seasons. So for summer, it was Citrine. Then I always try to keep a stone that’s not just representative of the season, but something that you might actually need during that season. Like for us, it was Hematite because my oldest daughter tends to get like, “Ahhhhhhh!” In summer. We’re in Michigan so we go nutty in the summer. We just try to fit so much in.
We also have a peace basket, which is more of a meditative basket.
It has Lavender Playdough and healing sprays where the liquid is a gem essence. Then I use essential oils and I put an array of crystals in there. I really want it to be something that they choose and decide what they are drawn towards, rather than me putting myself into it. But if I see that my youngest is having an extra sensitive day, I might put an Amethyst in there or something like that. I might put a stone in there that I think it might help, and they can just kinda play with it. But I really try not to be super direct. I do feel like it’s such a personal choice and I want them to have the freedom to make it.
Ashley: So you’re really giving them room and time for a little bit of creative play as part of this.
I’m just curious with the peace basket… is this something that is out all the time, like your nature table, or is it more like an activity that they do a couple of times a week?
Nicolette: It’s always out. We talk about it. We go through. There are little disks on it that are mindful moments, there’s a little animal on it, there’s a little description — “If you’re feeling this, you can do this.” It’s just out all the time, just to remind them that there’s a little scarf in there that they can hold up and they can breathe onto it, cause kids can forget that they are breathing. I still forget that I’m breathing. So that’s a little something to remind them.
The peace basket and the nature table are always fluid. So they’re always bringing new things onto the nature table. Then they also have their own stones that they collect that are really special to them.
I think we have a tendency to put a lot of labels onto stones, but what’s awesome is that the stones they find are the stones that are powerful to them, for whatever reason.
So I think it’s important for them to have their own little treasure chest that is just their own. I guess for that there’s a reference in our family around stones. So that’s something that I feel like they should have freedom around. They see I have a little altar and I organize things accordingly — I have my own nature table, basically — but I don’t push what I do onto them. I want them to do it their own way, however they want to.
Ashley: Even as adults, I think sometimes when people are thinking about crystals they want to work with, they get so caught up in the “rules” about how to work with crystals. They’re so afraid of something being wrong. Kids are so much more fearless when it comes to that, we can really kind of take a lesson from that and really just kind of tune into what we’re feeling called to work with. Be open and present in the moment and reach for what calls our attention.
How are some ways that we can get kids connected with the lunar energy? I know that you just came out with a little annual program and it has to do with the moon, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Nicolette: Sure. So there’s these big shifts that happened when we came to the farm. I really felt like something was off, because the more we got into nature and that rhythm, the more other structures and systems felt that they didn’t fit anymore.
Nicolette: And I don’t think that necessarily happened in the city. It just happened for me here. But that’s not to say it can’t happen to you if you’re living in an urban area. So, I started to sync up with the moon cycles. That’s when things began to really flow.
I still have a local group here, Moon Collective of Women. We meet every single full moon and it’s so nourishing and so wonderful.
So that was all happening at the same time. I was celebrating the full moons with the kids and with my family. I cannot recommend this enough, because basically our society is driven by the clock and the calendar and the calendar is solar, but there’s not necessarily a break. It’s just like pure fire just keeps pulling you forward.
So we have all these things that we try to do like yoga, and even stones and plants, cause I love dealing with plants. You try all these things, but the issue is that the backbone that we weigh our entire life on is not aligned with a softer, gentler rhythm. So that’s where the moon comes in. We really are way more aligned with the moons now. It’s not even in a complex way. It draws on what were ancient cultures and native traditions.
So every full moon we celebrate. We have a party and we name each full moon.
For example, we just had the Buck moon and the next one is the Sturgeon moon. They’re named after astrology or things that are happening in the environment. So at that time, basically the full moon is characterizing the entire month. We really try to focus our projects on the upswings. So on the waxing and then on the waning, we’re really breathing out. And I’ll say there’s just a gentle awareness, it’s not always like, “Oh, my gosh! Suddenly our life is wonderful, suddenly everything is working!” It’s not like that. It’s more like we’re able to see patterns that we never have seen before as a family.
So, I think that’s what it’s been about for us. The full moon is a family affair. It’s a community, it’s a celebration. You’re at the height of your total abundance and celebrating that. At the new moon, I have a conversation with the kids and we talk about what it means to set intentions and look ahead, which is just a great practice for kids to be able to do.
Kids’ lives are often so dominated by the choices that we make. So this gives them a sense of power. Then I go out by myself and make my little Moondala, which is nothing fancy, I just put a circle together with whatever. I walk around the yard and pick things that draw me in, because like we were talking about before, like when a child is drawn to a stone, it’s something so profound to be able to have that relationship.
What we are drawn to, it says something about what we need and who we are at that moment.
So I do that, and then I choose some stones. For this, I try to keep things simple. I just pull one stone that represents the season and the biome and where I am right then with that. Then I’d pick another stone that is the intention for that upcoming cycle. So just two stones. Then I just sit with it for a while. I usually take a picture just cause my memory is so gone. Total mommy brain.
Ashley: Yeah, you have this thing that you’re doing that is so inclusive of the whole family. I love the concept of a full moon party, because of how simple it is. And what a good time for celebration! The full moon is when everything is coming together, when we’re manifesting and finally at that peak moment. Like everything that we’ve been doing since the time of the new moon, since we’ve set those intentions, is all coming together. How fun to have everybody participate in that celebration!
I love the idea of taking that time once a month to have that planned family evening. Something that’s devoted to celebration and joy and togetherness.
Then to involve your kids in the new moon intention setting, I think that is so special. Like you said, giving them a voice and an opportunity to participate in something that is so empowering would do loads for their self confidence. It would also just help them feel more connected and more a part of what’s going on.
I also really like that you also have this aspect that’s just for you as a mom. It’s your time to kind of reflect and set intentions and maybe think and consider what everyone has shared during the family intention setting. You’re kind of going out and starting to call it into being with your Moondala. So, thank you so much for sharing that.
I think it’s amazing, just how simple and powerful connecting with the moon can really be.
Nicolette: Yeah, thank you, it’s really been wonderful to have that, to live inside of that cycle. I feel like if I don’t have the time to do that, then something else has to go. Because if we don’t have time to live inside some sort of natural cycle, there’s something we have to look at and reconsider. It also gives you something to measure up against. Like, “Am I able to participate in this? In this that is so fundamental to me as a human?”
The traditional calendar does not really give you a chance to reflect, but the nature of lunar cycles is that they do get you go through those phases. They’re the most amazing metaphor. They’re such an accurate reflection and representation of how life truly is. For kids to be able to learn that when they’re young, and to be able to use nature as an anchor is unbelievable. But this is how people used to live. Some tribes would plant their seeds only when the right star came up and aligned in the right place in the sky.
At first, this can all seem so foreign to us, but it’s actually so fundamental to us as humans.
Ashley: That’s so true. Well, I have to say, Nicolette, thank you so much for taking the time to share all of these amazing insights with everyone who’s been listening today. I really appreciate you being here.
Nicolette: Oh, thank you so much for letting me talk about it. I’m so passionate about this and about helping families on this journey, so it’s a gift for me to be able to talk about it. It helps me to be able to figure it out myself too, so thank you.
Ashley: And to all of you listening, I hope that you are inspired today. You have some amazing takeaways that you can integrate into your own family and that you can start to share with your children. Thank you so much for listening and crystal blessings.