As a childminder I can relate to this mum guilt. Both of my children were born into my childminding business so from day one they had to share me with other babies and children.
I suffered from this- ‘mum guilt’ constantly, especially when my children became older and more independent as, they could see me every day caring for babies and other people’s children and I felt they mustn’t have felt special, as I tried to treat all the children equally. So, if another child wanted to play with my childrens toys, in their house, my children were encouraged to share. Sharing your toys with other children is tough enough when you are a baby or toddler but it’s harder sharing your Mum. When they can see you spending your time and energy doing other things or on others, and not putting your attention on them, they can feel unimportant.
That’s how I can relate to all those working parents who now have to adapt to working from home, whilst also caring for their children. Multitasking the two is very difficult to say the least. When we are visible but inaccessible to our children, it’s like saying to them that they’re lower down on our list of priorities or second best to whatever else has captured our attention.
WORKING FROM HOME
While we are physically around them, they can actually see what is more important to us at that time other than them. Whether it’s working on the computer, taking phone calls, Zooming a meeting or writing up that report, at that moment, they are not as important to us as the thing or the person we are currently occupied with. Most young children don’t understand that we have to work, or even what work really is for, they just physically see us occupied elsewhere, so they do all they can to make us conscious by demanding our full attention, any way they can. Usually this is seen as misbehaving and we tell them off, adding to our guilt further. But at these challenging times you should go easy on yourself, no one can expect you to do the same job as you would at work while caring for your child, and the bottom line is, none of this is you or your child’s fault so try to enjoy this time together as much as you can.
If you make them feel involved while you are working, you’ll get more done than constantly fighting off their attempts at vying for your attention. If you have to write that report for your boss, give your child some paper and crayons and ask them to write a report with you and turn it into a fun game, they wont notice you are distracting them if they are enjoying the distraction in your company. When we include them, we are not multitasking them if they are involved and enjoying the process, so let’s get them involved.
Most people can do what we do, with the exception of being a parent to our child. All these things that keep us busy seem important at the time, but it doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life—it’s all a waste of time. It’s who we are with and the time we give that counts in the end!
Luckily, my children never got jealous (that I know of anyway?) they always felt involved and they have embraced all the children I’ve cared for over the past sixteen years as part of their family, even referring to some as bothers and sisters, but I feared it could have gone the other way too and they could have ended up resenting the other children or me, for the business I chose to be in, ironically to be ‘there’ for my kids.
But over the years I’ve reasoned that there were lots of benefits also for my children, and had I gone out to work commuting and working late and not around at all, equally they would have felt neglected. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All parents worry or feel anxious on a daily basis (more so now while we are faced with the Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic).
That’s why I created my Guilty Buster and The Worry Buster Technique exercises in my books, to address guilt and worry. So whenever I was feeling the- ‘Mum guilt’ -I would do the following exercise, one is from book one.
Guilt is a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, we are better off channelling our energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause us guilt.
We can start by trying this guilt busting exercise and writing our answers down;
Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?
You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?
Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.
Make a list of anything and everything that is making you feel guilty right now and go through each thing on your list and try and turn it into your guilty pleasure. Ask yourself what good reasons can you find for doing/not doing it?
For example, you may feel guilty because you have to work and miss playing with your child.
But your good reason for working is to pay the bills and buy your child the experiences and things they need to grow and develop.
Maybe you feel guilty over a long soak in the bath or reading a book in peace alone?
But you can reassure yourself that time away from your child is exactly what you need to relax and be you again. Giving you the chance to miss them and enjoy their company more when reunited afresh.
This exercise can help you to understand that to regain your sense of self, you need this guilty pleasure.
As a consequence of using your time to do things you want to do, you will feel happier, making you a calmer, more content and relaxed parent.
We all need time and space away from our children occasionally if only to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands.
The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.
It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment toward our children for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.
THE WORRY BUSTER TECHNIQUE
First, think about something that is worrying you at this moment regarding your child.
Now, write down all the reasons why it is worrying you, and note how worrying about it has helped the situation or how it has made it worse.
Then, work out how long you have been worrying about it, and decide how much longer you want to keep on worrying about it.
Next, write a list of all the possible ways that you can try to help solve the problem or make it less of a worry. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of, regardless of how unrealistic they may sound at first.
Now, choose one way that you can take action on the problem today.
Finally, go and take some action and do something to change the situation now.
Can’t find a solution right now?
Then just decide to relax and step back and accept, for now, the way things are.
Clear your mind of the problem and do something else until a solution comes to mind. Busy yourself with chores or exercise and let the solution bubble away in the back of your mind unhindered by you.
You’ve proactively looked at the issue by doing the ‘Worry Busting Technique’. Now the only thing you can change is to stop worrying about something you cannot change becauseif there is nothing you can do about it, then why waste time and energy worrying?
SHARE YOUR LOCK DOWN PARENTING PROBLEMS & EXPERIENCES
Worrying will not help or change anything. After all, most of what we worry about never actually happens anyway, and if we are doing all that we can do right now, then there is no need to worry about anything else.
I hope these simple exercises will help you at this difficult time, as much as they have helped me and the countless other parents that I have worked with in the past in overcoming guilt and worry.
Thanks to those of you that have emailed me for sharing your thoughts on Lock down and parenting, please keep your stories and experiences coming in so I know what to blog about each week that will be most beneficial at this time.
We’ve all dreamed of lazy days in our pjs, watching daytime TV, with no work or responsibilities but now we’ve got it, we can see the dream was far better than reality. We all need structure to our days and a reason to get out of bed and get dressed each day. When everyday becomes a prolonged holiday it just gets boring, yes we had fun eating and drinking what we pleased, sleeping when we felt like and not having to exercise as much, but when there’s no U time and Us time becomes more of a chore we can’t escape, everyone’s esteem suffers. Now more than ever, you and your children need routine.
Routine – The Habit of all Happy, Healthy and Successful Parents and Children.
Having worked with so many different children of all ages from all walks of life, I believe there’s no such thing as a naughty child, a fussy eater, or a child who cannot sleep.
There are only children who lack routine, and therefore, develop their own habits in the absence of those routines.
Our children’s routines are simply their everyday activities, such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time. Most children already follow some sort of routine, whether it’s one that has been structured for them to follow, such as being put to bed at seven pm every evening, or one they have naturally adopted where they nap when they are tired around three pm each day. Both become habits ensuring adequate sleep.
Whether formed naturally or created by us for our children to follow, habits in life can work for or against us. For example, only eating junk food is an unhealthy habit, brushing our teeth is a healthy habit.
We can do them both every day without even thinking about it unless we choose consciously not to do them. This is hard work, anyone who’s ever tried to go on a diet will tell you—the craving takes over. Breaking old habits can be a real struggle. Particularly if those habits provide us with pleasure or comfort, which most do. As human beings, we are all creatures of habit. We like the predictability and safety that our habits provide, like an old friend, we can rely on them to be there for us when we need them. As it’s so hard to break old habits and resist temptation, it’s best not to let our children develop unhealthy habits in the first place.
The problem then is not the habits themselves, it’s whether they are healthy and helpful for our children or not.
If our children’s habits are sporadic or dictated by the whims of our children’s moods and emotions, they are not consistent routines. Routines should become automatic habits that should not depend on outside circumstances or feelings. What’s important is understanding our children’s habits and being able to influence or change them in order to steer them down the healthier, automatic highway.
To do this, it’s essential we offer them alternative ‘healthy habits’ and the best way to do this is to provide them with a healthy, consistent routine.
Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic world. Lack of routine causes confusion, and that results in misbehaviour.
When our children don’t know what is expected of them, when it’s expected, and why we expect them to do something, they get confused, angry, and upset.
We might insist they go to bed at seven o’clock, but if that’s not what they are used to doing, and they don’t know why they must go to bed at that time all of a sudden, then they’ll kick up a fuss. This emotional outburst will be even more severe if they are tired.
It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to, giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow until eventually, those instructions become an automatic habit.
Children just don’t understand the reason why they are being overly emotional is because they are tired, hungry, or frustrated over something out of their control. Our role as parents is to identify their misbehaviour as a sign that they want us to take charge, direct them, or reassure them in some way, not to punish them for their behaviour.
This is when routines are useful because being young and uncertain on how to react or behave is scary enough without children having to worry about when they are going to eat their next meal or what time they need go to bed. A regular routine takes care of all of that for them, and for us as parents too.
In the absence of routine, children can become labelled as naughty when they’re actually hungry, tired, bored, restless, or attention seeking. We naturally assume that attention seeking behaviour is bad, but if our children are in constant need of our attention, then we need to identify this as the problem and find out why.
And again, routine helps us to do this because if we can rule out our children’s unwanted behaviour as not being a result of hunger or tiredness, we now know there’s another issue that needs our attention.
It’s easy to overlook issues without a routine in place as we won’t have a clue what is wrong with our child, making it easier to blame their behaviour as being the problem rather than finding out what problem is causing the behaviour.
That’s because their behaviour is tangible, we can see, hear, or feel it even. So, if it’s unwanted behaviour, the behaviour is the only problem we see, and we tend to react to their behaviour by trying to control or stop it with some form of punishment or threat.
Children may think they know what they want, but they are not mature or experienced enough to decide what is good or bad for them.
That’s when they depend on us for guidance, not punishment.
No doubt they’ll want to play all night long, but only because they don’t understand the importance of rest in their lives and the impact lack of quality sleep has on them. When they fight their need to sleep, inevitably, they become over tired, and as a result, they become out of control and emotional with no understanding of why.
Lack of routine in their lives can make it easy for them to do their own thing based on how they are feeling at any particular time. But their feelings aren’t reliable—routines are. We have to take a proactive approach to parenting and provide for their needs before they need them. Such as ensuring they go to bed at a consistent time every evening. This way, we limit and eventually prevent unwanted behaviour caused by tiredness.
If our children get enough time with us, adequate sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and plenty of recreation and love, then, those habits will obviously serve them better. Whereas a haphazard approach, left to their own devices, unsupervised, in an environment where they have complete control of what they do, staying up late, eating junk food in front of a screen is a recipe for disaster.
Now I’m not suggesting any of us allow that to happen intentionally, but letting our children stay up later than they should, occupied by a screen, can become a sneaky habit. Sometimes, for the sake of our sanity, we need a break, and the modern age babysitter, aka, the moving screen, is quick and convenient. It also delays the tantrum we know will erupt before bed, and in some cases, provides a lullaby for children to eventually drop off to so we don’t have to face that dreaded situation.
But this catch 22 is a short-term solution to a longer-term problem.
Even if they fight it, all children need and like the predictability that routines offer, but it’s also good for us parents. It’s far easier and less stressful than fighting and arguing with our children, and it gives us the time for ourselves that we all need. When we all follow the same routine, harmony follows us. It gives the day order, and time serves a purpose in our lives. We become more organised and productive and able to plan ahead and pre-empt things ahead of time.
If we are trying to get some peace and quiet to unwind and relax, then we need to put our children to bed. That way, they can grow and recharge, while we enjoy our evening relaxing and recuperating. For that to work, we must establish a bedtime routine, or else we are making tomorrow an even harder day than today.
As parents, we now know that we want routine, and our children need it, so let’s give everyone what they want and need. But what routines exactly do our children need?
No matter how unique our children are, all children need exactly the same things to be happy, healthy, and successful, that is;
Parents and carers who love them unconditionally and spend time with them, making them feel valued.
Somewhere safe to call home.
A routine which includes, recreational play time, sleep, exercise, love, and food.
It’s about the small, consistent things that we do for our children that will make all the difference to their health, happiness, and success long term.
It’s not about grand gestures, gadgets or gifts, fancy clothes, or holidays to exotic Islands riding camels across the dessert. Although, these positive experiences and material possessions can and do make a difference to their wellbeing too. But ultimately, being a loving parent who offers a stable routine is the best gift that we can give our children today.
And it’s the gift that keeps on giving because the sense of love, security, belonging, and comfort provided by a routine while young will stay with them as adults, helping them to feel more confident as people and happier in themselves.
THE U URSELF ROUTINE
As parents, we are responsible for our children’s habits.
The U URSELF Routine is a routine that allows us take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children.
And that’s why U Time is part of the U URSELF Routine that I created.
It’s a routine I used with my own children as well as helping other parents and their children that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s tried and tested, and it works. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool, making it easy to deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour when followed consistently on a daily basis.
Although I have created and used the U URSELF Routine with great success with my own children and have taught it to parents and children I have worked with over the past sixteen years as a Registered Childminder, Parent Coach, and Therapist. Only you know what is best for you and your child and your family as a whole. Each and every family has their own way of doing things and their own setup. Therefore, it’s you yourself who will ideally decide the routines you want your child to follow. The U URSELF Routine is aptly called the U URSELF Routine because it’s you yourself who will implement this routine and, ultimately, it’s going to be you yourself who will make your child happy, healthy, and successful.
If you are interested in reading more about the U URSELF Routine in detail, you can download my book now which covers the routine in depth, The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child from Amazon or order a copy from Waterstones or Barnes & Noble
But I’ll offer a brief overview as follows.
It’s one routine as a whole that comprises of seven different yet co-dependant aspects. In order for you to remember them, below is a useful mnemonic to help you, using the words ‘You Yourself’ abbreviated and spelt U URSELF. These combined are what I refer to as the U URSELF routine.
Those seven, separate, yet co-dependant routines combine into one solid tried and tested routine. Offering an outline of what every child needs and why, to be happy, healthy, and successful.
Individual in their own right, each are co-dependent on one another because it’s pointless addressing our children’s behavioural issues if we aren’t addressing their sleep issues or other areas of their lives. As each aspect of our children’s lives impacts one another, there’s no point addressing your child’s sleeping habits if you don’t look at their exercise and recreational habits too. Like a missing piece of the puzzle, leaving out one area will fail to give us the whole picture. All the pieces or parts of the routine need to be collectively addressed at the same time.
We all do it, we focus on an area we feel is the problem and try treating that problem or try to tackle that area head-on, failing to find the solution we are after.
We need to encompass our children’s habits as a whole in all areas. Even those areas we are happy with that cause no issues.
They may be a good eater, but what are they eating and when?
I’m guessing chicken nuggets are most popular in these days of lockdown!
This can all have an impact on their quality of sleep and be an underlying cause of their sleep problems.
The U URSELF routine will prove to be a useful, informative, motivational guide.
Even though much of it is common sense, having a motive or understanding the benefits of each aspect will give you the motivation and knowledge to stick to the routine, particularly when times become challenging. We are all cooped up indoors together at this time through no fault of anyone’s but tensions are high and patience in short supply. If you are finding your childrens behaviour difficult right now you may also like to take a look at my other book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available to download to Kindle now.
If consistently followed, The UURSELF Routine is a reliable blueprint to guide you, but not if it’s just on paper. You can read about it, and I can keep writing about it until we are blue in the face, but without taking action to implement it, it’s worthless common knowledge. You have to be proactive in encouraging and following it with your child.
That’s where most routines fail, our motivation wanes over time. When we lack motivation, we can never encourage our children to follow the routine, and without encouragement, routines are not carried out frequently enough to become habits.
Over time, with a consistent approach to the U URSELF routine, becoming over tired, starving hungry, bored or attention seeking will be eliminated most of the time as the routine endeavours to meet those needs in advance before it’s too late.
By offering our children food before they are hungry or by putting them down for a nap just before they desperately need one, we help them to feel understood, cared for, and content. This prevents tears and tantrums for both parent and child, because trying to soothe an over tired baby to sleep is a very stressful time for all in earshot, so it’s never a good idea to wait until it’s too late.
The U URSELF Routine is designed to help children feel good. Feeling good about themselves is crucial to being happy, heathy, and successful. That’s why Esteem is part of the U URSELF Routine.
The U URSELF routine also allows us to take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool. When followed consistently on a daily basis, the U URSELF Routine as already said helps us deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour., so we are able to see where the problem lies.
Routines also help us to proactively pre-empt beforehand our children’s behaviour so we can plan and accommodate for those times when there have been interferences in their routines.
You’ll soon find that life is so much easier when we all have a routine to follow each day!
Carve the path for your child to walk, or tread the hot coal’s that follow, it’s up to you.
I’d love to hear your lockdown parenting adventures. I would especially love to hear some positive stories, and the good outcomes that you have found from this strange period in our history, you can email me email@example.com
In these empty days of lockdown, for once, it gives us the opportunity to do all those tiresome jobs we’ve been putting off. My filing cabinet and accounts are in the best shape I’ve ever seen them, while my husband’s been doing all those odd jobs around the house that he never usually has the time to get done!
As a parent to a young toddler you may already have your hands full, especially if you have older siblings at home that you now need to home-school but this is the ideal time for lots of parents to potty train.
I’ve been potty training (as its termed, I’d rather call it ‘toilet coaching’) toddlers for the past 16 years and I know that, in those first few years it wasn’t a task that I relished. Now however, I’ve found if the timing is right and the child is ready and the environment is supportive, toddlers will more or less train themselves, with a little fuss and excitement that is!
As parents we just have to make it an enjoyable experience for our children and try to allay our own anxieties. This new routine of using the toilet independently takes a lot of skill and practice to master, but if they are ready, master it – they will!
ARE THEY READY?
So, if you think your childis ready, that is they can,
Understand basic instruction, I find many children can’t articulate themselves well at this age but they understand lots. They have the vocabulary and understanding tucked up inside their heads even though they may not yet use it verbally, that’s why it often feels like they start talking in sentences overnight, so even if they cant say what they want, if they can understand what you want them to do such as ‘Sit on the potty’ this is a good indicator.
Also, they may not like the wet or dirty cold discomfort of a soiled or wet nappy and may tug at it, point or lay down as if to say ‘Change my nappy now!’ this too is a good indicator.
As well as if they notice they need to go to toilet before they go or display signs to you, they are about to go. In my experience I’ve witnessed children going to hide behind the sofa and curtain or hold onto their nappy, especially at a certain age, when they start to feel a bit more self -conscious and like to go somewhere private as we normally would when we use a toilet in a bathroom. Or they suddenly stop what they’re doing and make a funny face as if to hold it in or their face flushes as they are straining to let it go. They become aware they have wet or soiled. They can often tell you if they have the vocabulary to do so such as saying ‘poo, poo’ although I’ve found this term can mean either a wee or a poo some don’t differentiate between the two. At this stage though they may still not be able to let you know they are about to go to toilet before they actually go, but there maybe physical signs as above such as going to a certain place when they feel the need to go. At this stage we have to be proactive as parents and observe our children carefully, taking the lead from their cues. Another cue is some children have bowel movements at a certain time each day like clockwork, this is so useful to know when it comes to toilet coaching. If we know little Johnny has a poo at around 11am we can have the potty at hand ready and waiting to limit the mess of an accident. As their bladder capacity increases their nappies will remain dry for longer periods of time too which is a good sign they can hold on.
If they can then hold on until they reach their potty or the toilet, remove their clothing and sit on the potty or toilet, then they’re ready, although this will take some practice. There are things we can do to help such as dressing them in clothing that is easy to remove. I prefer to toilet train when the weather is nice, usually during the school holidays when there’s no school runs or too many children. Easter or May half term or the six- week summer holidays are ideal. We can allow our children the freedom to run around in just their pants and a vest around the house as the temperature is warm and this is the easiest clothing to remove. Its also usually the time when we take time off to spend with our family. At the moment time home with our family is something most of us have.
I’ve found children between 2-3years take to toilet coaching a lot quicker, any younger and its difficult for them to control their bladder or rectum and any older, their voluntary control sometimes becomes a bit lazy as they haven’t been practicing, but there’s no exact age to start, only you will know your unique, individual child, even if you’ve got ten children, each and every one of them will be different and will learn things at different times and at different rates. Their siblings may all have potty trained at 18months but if little Johnny is two and a half and still not ready then you have to wait until they are.
LEARNING TO GROW UP
I usually set aside two weeks if possible, of no going out to soft play etc… and focusing solely on the goal of toilet coaching.
I also find it very helpful if I have more than one child of appropriate age, who is ready also, to coach both children together. This way they motivate and learn from one another.
What I’ve found over the years is that children love to grow up and do the things the older children or us grown ups do, which is more than helpful at times like these.
Many parents buy their children a potty to play with from a young age, way before they are ready to understand what it’s for. I personally don’t recommend doing this as over the years I’ve encountered children who do just that- play with their potties or use them as seats to sit on, especially now you can buy these fancy thrones that sing and light up.
I know we want to make the process attractive and fun but most children I find are naturally drawn to the big toilet, especially washing their hands afterwards with the liquid soap in the sink. They don’t want more singing toys; they want to be like us. We are their greatest role models, I know for most of us its almost impossible to use the toilet ourselves without an audience of little people tagging along, and this can be good, especially if you have a son following his father and observing and imitating his dad, this helps him to learn, likewise, our daughters can learn from us mums.
It’s also great when our children attend childcare settings such as a childminder’s, where they are surrounded by children of various ages, at some point they will experience being the baby or youngest child, middle child and then the oldest and they learn from the other children and copy them. This is great when it comes to toilet coaching as they will see the big boys going to the bathroom to use the big toilet and will naturally want to be just like one of them.
It seems ironic that – the bathroom or toilet is the one place I stop the babies and nappy wearing toddlers going into, one -through fear of germs while crawling round the ubend and two- losing toys or ornaments down the loo (this is more common than you may think!) so the banned room as you can imagine is their run to place as soon as my back is turned. Its attractive because its somewhere they know I don’t want them to go without me!
We don’t want to create germ phobia particularly now in this time when they will already be watching us obsessively handwashing and disinfecting the house several times a day, due to the current coronavirus epidemic. Yes, it’s more important now than ever before to wash our hands thoroughly and teach our children how to do so, but again we must make this a fun experience not get neurotic. If they have an accident in the bath that looks like a scene from ‘Kevin and Perry -Go Large’ then don’t panic, keep calm, cool and collected, this is what we call a learning opportunity.
They don’t do this on purpose to upset us so, just remove them from the bath while explaining to them what has happened, where its come from, how it’s a normal bodily function to get rid of what his body no longer needs, and give it a name so he can recognise it.
Remember babies and toddlers seldom get to see their faeces, its in their nappies which we change so, being able to see it helps them to identify with it, I call it ‘Poo, Poo’ your child may find a better or at least a funnier name for it. Just be consistent when referring to bodily waste so your child is clear what you mean when you say it, so for example, if your child likes to use the term ‘Wee, Wee’ you may throw them when you ask them to go for a ‘Pee, Pee’.
NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME
Sometimes though they maybe ready but we aren’t, this is what happened to me with my first child, I had just arrived home from the hospital after giving birth to my second child and was in the middle of breastfeeding him when she announced ‘I need a wee wee on the potty!’ and ripped off her nappy.
No way I thought as I flew up from my seat to come to her aid, but she just did it…. sat down and wee’d and that was that. I was relieved and over joyed she had achieved her first independent pee on the potty and she was chuffed to be getting all the attention. And that was that. ‘No more nappies’ used to be our daily mantra!
And it worked, she put on her big girl knickers and basically toilet trained herself with little coaching from me. I know I was lucky, I’m not bragging, I’m sure her baby brother coming along and hogging her lime light helped in her gaining the praise and attention she was used to, so the timing although initially I didn’t feel was right- worked out perfect!
But we had done other things leading up to it, such as reading books about potty training so she could associate the potty with going to toilet, not as an object to play with or sit on. I kept the potty in the cloakroom toilet so it had a place too, so she understood we only go to toilet in this place.
But you also need to feel ready, ‘toilet coaching’ is just another new routine that you and your child will need to get used to and like all new routines it requires patience, energy, and understanding on everyone’s part.
The secret to successful ‘toilet coaching’ will largely depend on how patient we are and how we encourage our children to use the toilet or potty.
It means showing unconditional love even when they’ve had an accident or wet their pants for the eighth time that day. It’s tempting to expect them to change overnight because we want them to, but children won’t change if we force or rush them.
HANG IN THERE & PERSERVERE
Routines present opportunities to learn new and better ways of doing things, but they are best carried out in a calm, relaxed, and patient manner. Telling them off or rushing them is unproductive. So regardless of their age, I think more important is understanding your child and their needs and choosing a time when you personally feel both mentally and physically strong and determined. It’s easier for us to give up and put the nappy back on our children if we are tired or frustrated ourselves.
We just have to take it one day at a time. No matter how much we prepare our children or no matter how prepared we think we are, we will still find toilet coaching difficult at times, likely when we are mopping up yet another puddle in the living room or worse. That’s why we need to choose a time when we can commit one hundred percent and start as we mean to go on. Once we have decided to go for it and they are using pants and not nappies we need to keep the momentum going. Going back to nappies only tends to confuse children and means any effort made previously in toilet coaching was all in vain and a total waste of time, tears, effort, and energy.
WHEN SHOULD WE WORRY?
I do however, know of children who have been toilet training for years, there can be a number of factors why this happens including, physical developmental issues or emotional ones but on the whole, setting those issues aside, if your child is ready the process will be more like weeks before they are dry throughout the day rather than years, so don’t worry.
The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’
When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.
If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.
It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.
If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor. They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day. Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all.
If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition. Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?
Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?
Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as this current change in our lifestyles due to lockdown?
Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful. This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too. (You can read more on this in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child.)
This current situation can be stressful for a small child, especially if their normal daily routines have been disrupted.
What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children. We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!
GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY
What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting. In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time. Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development.
What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future. A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pull up, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see. A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.
And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower. Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves. They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility. Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my other book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting.
Children only fail if they fail to try. Highlighting their successes should be our main focus. One wee on the potty is better than none at all, they haven’t failed because they had an accident while toilet training, they’ve succeeded at least once by trying.
They will learn their most memorable lessons through failure, and these will be the lessons they will tend to not want to repeat again. Allowing them to fail can be difficult, failure is deemed far from being successful, but they learn how to overcome obstacles and challenges firstly by observing us and seeing how we react to situations (so getting angry, frustrated or upset over some spilt wee on the floor won’t help) and secondly they learn more from doing than being told. I’m an advocate for what I call ‘Present Parenting’.
Present Parenting is consciously parenting by staying present in the moment and being aware of everything going on around us. It’s thinking before we respond, not just about what’s going on, but how and why? It’s understanding our children’s behaviour and how they are feeling and taking all of this into consideration. Although, we can only experience this when we learn to lighten up and see things how they really are instead of catastrophising and making mountains out of mole hills.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry?’
I know it can be hard at times. I had to fight back the tears when my two- year-old threw our brand new digital SLR Camera into a potty full of pee!
It would’ve been one of those perfect memory making moments to capture and look back on and laugh at years later now she’s a teen. But at that time, the camera stopped working!
Our children’s behaviour can be challenging, but is it really all that seriously bad?
And finally, don’t feel intimidated or compare you or your child to those so-called perfect parents who magically toilet trained their baby of 12 months over night. Every child is different and develop at different rates, its not a competition, so relax.
This can be a very rewarding time for both you and your child, they will feel pride and achievement once they master this new routine like a ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ which they will love immensely, but it can also be an emotional time, especially for you as a parent as its one of the first signs that your baby is growing up!
Stay Proactive, but most importantly Stay Present,
If Cabin Fever has set in due to Covid-19 lock down, then relax and take 2 minutes out of your day for some much needed #UTime and watch this short video to ease your mind.
The most proactive thing we can do to influence our children is to be a positive role model for them to follow and for this we need to behave appropriately ourselves, which can often be challenging when our children are pushing us to our limits and triggering our angry buttons. Particularly now when we can’t seem to escape.
Affirmations are a great aid in lifting up moods, releasing tension and creating confidence.
For fun try this little exercise now.
Say three times with a big smile on your face;
‘I feel good.’
‘I feel good.’
‘I feel good.’
And feel how good that feels.
You can literally feel how good that feels, can you not?
USING AFFIRMATIONS WITH OUR CHILDREN
And affirmations can be most beneficial and helpful for our children too!
Where negative statements can be accepted as true in our children’s mind, so too can positive statements. We call these Affirmations, and they can be used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, or reaffirm something wanted, bringing about positive thoughts and feelings. They’re positive statements said as if they are already true.
While saying it, we simply can’t, but not feel good. We may feel a bit silly saying them at first, but children are less self-conscious. They will find affirmations a fun way to program their minds and to plant and grow positive suggestions in their subconscious. But what’s really great is if they can accept these positive suggestions while young, then there will be less reprogramming to be done as they get older.
To encourage this habit, they need to think of a positive statement in the present tense that they can relate to. The language needs to be simple, using words they would use in everyday speech and that’s appropriate for their understanding. If too complex, they’ll be less likely to understand or take the statements on board. It’s better they choose their own affirmations they feel comfortable with saying, these can be written if the child is old enough, to compliment and reinforce the verbal affirmation, but are best said aloud repeatedly.
They need to be short, simple, positive, uplifting, motivating, and believable. Such as; ‘I am now learning more and more every day.’
Whenever they encounter difficulties, we can try and encourage them to repeat to themselves these positive, affirming, statements;
‘I can do it!’
‘Anything is possible.’
REPETITION IS KEY
Repetition is key to affirmations and the more they practise using positive affirmations, the easier they get and the better they start to feel about themselves and their capabilities.
This probably won’t surprise you to know, but while children are speaking and thinking positively about themselves, it’s impossible for them to think negatively, and then fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and frustration disappear (Same for us grownups too!).
This is useful if they are struggling in some area, such as learning how to read, instead of listening to their self-defeating mental chatter, they can replace it with positive self-talk and could say;
‘I enjoy learning how to read, reading is fun, and I am now finding it easier and easier to read.’ We can clearly understand how this approach is more helpful than what children usually say such as;
‘I can’t read, I hate reading, it’s hard.’ Convincing themselves with their own words that they cannot read, not realising that they are the ones holding themselves back. Children confuse lack of experience and confidence in something, such as reading, as a lack of ability, and believe they do not, cannot, and will never be able to do it. Any mistakes they encounter only reinforce this, knocking their confidence further.
Giving our children tools and techniques such as using ‘affirmations’ gives them coping mechanisms and preventative tools to cope, before they need them.
As a society, we don’t tend to address our children’s mental health until it really demands attention, at this point, we are usually quite late in the intervention process.
Especially when it comes to anxiety. We think they’ll get over it, grow out of it, etc… but it builds and builds until it becomes an explosive, volatile, emotional bomb, too hot for us to handle!
THE POWER IS IN OUR HANDS
How we react and respond in the heat of them moment makes a huge impact on our childrens well -being.
Think for a moment of the most, angriest, anxious, uptight, on edge person you have ever known.
Now try to recall how that person made you feel when in their company.
I bet you didn’t feel relaxed and at ease.
You probably also felt anxious and on edge around them.
You can feel this negative energy. Like a contagious virus, it spreads to others.
Likewise, positive, calm, relaxed, and happy people spread those feel-good, healthy feelings too.
What kind of feelings are you sharing with your child, and how do you think they feel as a result?
If you haven’t already then, to unwind and de stress watch this affirmations video that I’ve created to help you, and allow those images and words to wash over you like a sea of tranquillity. Watch it at least twice a day for the next 30 days and you’ll start to feel a lot calmer and at ease.
And if you would like to learn more about Present Parenting or are still having any issue’s managing your child’s unwanted behaviour, you may like to read my book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting.
Available from Amazon and all good book stockists now for pre-order along with my other book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child (Kindle edition available to down load now).
Stay Powerful, Stay Proactive and most importantly Stay Present,
Happy 14th Birthday Son, we’re sure this will be one you won’t forget (lock down 2020!)
We are so proud of the young man that you’ve become I don’t think any parent could wish for a better Son than you, your love and respect shines through in all that you do and your polite and caring personality makes us so proud to be your parents.
We have to thank you Dylan. You were easy from the start.
Easy conception, easy pregnancy, easy birth and easy to love.
I also want to thank you for making me a more ‘Present Parent’.
First time around as a new mum everything’s new and frightening. You just don’t really know what to expect or know what you are doing?
It’s a learning process full of doubts, tears and fears!
So caught up in dirty nappies, sleepless nights and parenting anxiety, it’s hard to enjoy those first few years as a new mum.
But by the second child most of us are feeling a bit more confident, but alas, sadly for some, complacent.
You taught me how to enjoy being a mum. And how to appreciate every minute as special. And you always make us smile!
Your love made ordinary moments most would take for granted as precious and unique.
You made me notice them.
You made me present to the joy of being a parent and of being your Mum. A privilege I’ll always hold dear. Such as the time when you were just three years young. I was taking you to the Dentist, when as we were holding hands and crossing the road out of the blue you said;
‘I love you Mum.’
I can still remember to this day thinking that this was such a good moment in my life. I wanted my mind to photograph it forever, so that when we were both older, we could look back upon that ordinary moment, with fondness of a great time. A time when we were both truly present together, enjoying one another’s company.
We were just going about our daily business. Yet, it was such an extraordinary, emotional moment for me. So much so that, I can still feel those positive, loving, warm, fuzzy feelings deep inside me, whenever I recall that moment now.
As normal and mundane as a trip to the dentist with your child may sound, I can guarantee that in years to come, you too will realise how special those everyday moments in time really are. Even if those moments do not feel like it today. Even the loss of their 1st tooth!
One day, those simple everyday memories, will be where you will linger longingly, wishing you could go back to.
Noticing, appreciating and being fully present in those moments we are spending with our children today, is what Present Parenting is all about.
Because one day those moments, will be some of the best moments in our lives.
They truly are priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time, that we all too often take for granted because, we are disillusioned by the concept that, the work and worries that occupy our minds, are the things that need our attention the most.
Yet, neither now nor in the future, will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do.
It’s who we are with, and the love and time we give that counts!
If today was the only time we had left on Planet Earth, chances are we would not want to clean our house or work overtime, schmoozing our boss for a pay rise. Chances are, we would want to spend our time with our loved ones, having fun and letting them know how much we love them, while appreciating, how much we too, are loved by them.
We don’t always remember the dates or details in life, but we always remember how we felt, this is what our children will always remember too. It doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life, it’s all a waste of time, it’s who we are with, and the love and time we give that counts!
Childhood doesn’t last forever. When our children reach their teens, it’s going to be too late to regret, not having had the time to, paint, play, cook, read, sing, dance and enjoy our time with them, while young.
Make the most of now, and start to live in and enjoy each and every moment with your child, from now on. Tomorrow is promised to no one, stay present and be generous with that time. If you knew this was your last day ever with your child, you would hang on to their every word and not waste a single second of that time, and bear in mind, one day will be the last day you spend together.
There’s no time like the present, and no present like time!
If most of us grown-ups are petrified by this COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak then how do you think our children are feeling?
No news is good news, as they say.
We may be led to believe that it’s educational and informative for our children to follow the news because it allows them to know what the world is really like, but how often do you see or hear good news?
Does that mean that in reality there is no good news?
And no good people or experiences in the world, only bad?
Does the daily news really offer our children a balanced, realistic view of the world?
Or does it just highlight all the doom and gloom to sensationally sell more newspapers and boost ratings?
Unfortunately, bad news sells!
It’s what the majority of people like to hear about. It’s debatable whether the Pollyanna Gazette would be as popular?
Fortunately, life is not all doom and gloom, but if our children are being exposed to bad news every day, then they may start to believe it is.
In fact, they will likely become accustomed to it and expect bad news, associating more with it than any good news they may hear.
We should take care to protect our young, innocent children’s impressionable minds. Regular exposure to such negativity could cause nightmares, and some sensitive children could become fearful, sad, or depressed.
We do not, however, need to hide the truth from our children or try to protect them from hearing about anything unpleasant. Quite the opposite, it’s actually beneficial that they are aware of both the good and the bad news.
Yes, bad things happen in the world but so do good things too. We just need to give our children a more balanced outlook and show them what’s good about life more often than highlighting the bad news.
There are devastating diseases spreading across the globe today, there was in the 90’s too when Aids was an uncurable epidemic, and yes people are experiencing poverty and tragedy in the world, even today, but our children do not need to feel sad, fearful, or guilty because of that. It’s not their fault. Our children have a right to be happy, regardless of what’s going on in the world. Undoubtably, they will have a hard time being happy and carefree if they are aware of all that’s going on, which is out of their control.
If they want to make a contribution to society and a positive difference in the world, our children will have to learn how to free and empower themselves.
Something they can only do if they feel good. It’s hard to be an up lifter when you’re feeling down or fearful. This is where we can positively help to direct their attention on good causes.
Some people may think that you can’t shelter your children from the real world, scary stuff happens every day and it’s happening more and more. Not reading about it or watching it on TV won’t make it go away. I totally agree, but watching and reading about it won’t change anything either.
Just as exposing our children to scary stories can cause anxiety and fear, it’s pointless to highlight it unless we are willing to address the problem. Children do worry, they magnify things, and they don’t understand life as we do. When they hear there’s a murderer on the loose, even if that murder is in a different part of the country or even the other side of the world, they will have nightmares of the murderer coming to their house to get their family. They just won’t understand the back story. Maybe the murderer killed someone he knew on accident and has no intention of hurting anyone? But that won’t matter to a young child.
As a childminder, I’ve had to reassure and calm many a child down over something in the news that was bothering them. One child was petrified of a tsunami washing their home and family away and desperately didn’t want to go to school in case it happened.
As a therapist, one of the first things I advise my adult clients with anxiety to do is stop listening to the news. It’s amazing how that one simple thing makes them feel better in such a short space of time.
Taking a proactive approach and preventing our children getting caught up in bad news and taking action to personally change the world positively when we can will yield the most beneficial results.
Spreading love, joy, and happiness instead of doom and impending disaster as each individual person, one by one, we can impact those around us. Starting with ourselves, is what will make a difference to society as a whole.
We can’t change current epidemics, pandemics or the like or even other people, but we can and do affect our children, negatively or positively.
As an influential role model, you decide.
Because how we parent does make a difference to the future news, and the world we live in.
So, you survived another half term holiday, but secretly are jumping for joy that your little people are back to school or childcare right?
You’re not alone.
Spending Us time with our children is precious but often it can feel more of a challenge for most of us.
If your child’s behaviour can be difficult, spending Us Time together may not be something you relish doing.
You may or may not be surprised to know that many parents have admitted openly to me that, they actively look for distractions away from their children. And lots of parents feel a sense of relief when they drop their children to childcare or school and go to work.
This is not because they don’t love their children, quite the opposite, they really do love their children, they just don’t understand their behaviour or how to manage it, making time together more like hard work than fun, and they don’t want to upset their children or themselves any more than necessary.
If that sounds familiar, then you may be interested in reading my book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting because when we can understand our children’s behaviour better and they can understand us, Us Time becomes a more pleasurable experience.
Children need and want our attention, and they don’t mind how they get it.
That means if they don’t feel they’re getting enough of it naturally, they will force us to pay attention to them, usually by misbehaving.
When we have more than one child this spreading of our time and attention can be difficult, we’ll look at this in a minute when we address individual Us Time for each child, but first let’s uncover the art of intervention.
THE ART OF INTERVENTION
Knowing when to intervene in our children’s behaviour and when not to is a fine art to master. It takes a lot of thought, patience, and practice. We have to stop ourselves from flying off the handle at every incident and decide if it’s really such a big issue.
Does our children’s behaviour warrant a reaction from us that is likely to upset not only our children, but ourselves too?
If it’s not that important, then we have to learn how to let it go. Nine times out of ten, none of its really that serious anyway. This is not an excuse to get out of correcting our children’s unacceptable behaviour though—they have to abide by the rules in order to keep themselves safe and healthy.
IF IT’S NOT YOUR BATTLE THEN DON’T
It’s knowing the difference between those times when we need to correct them and knowing when they have to learn how to correct themselves. For example, when they are squabbling with friends or siblings, it’s not always necessary or helpful for us to jump right in and intervene.
It’s important to step back and let them get on with it at times and let them argue amongst themselves and learn how to resolve their own issues. This is the only way they’ll learn how to get on with other people and how to resolve conflicts in a safe, nurturing environment.
When our children hurt the ones they love, it teaches them when they have overstepped the mark. It offers them the opportunity to apologise and make up, or forgive the other person too if they feel they were justified. Silly little squabbles can be resolved between children without adult interference, so if it’s not our battle, then we don’t need to fight.
We have to find ways to proactively involve our children in the process of managing their emotions. By making our children part of the solution today, we equip them to understand and manage themselves in the future. This potentially removes unwanted behaviour in the future.
Our children can be part of the problem or solution. We are not going to eradicate tantrums and unwanted behaviour, but how we approach it and involve our children in resolving it, is what makes all the difference.
Let’s say toddler Tommy has hit baby Johnny on purpose because baby Johnny was holding Tommy’s favourite Teddy and wouldn’t let it go. Auto pilot Mummy may smack or shout at Tommy and say ‘You’re the big Brother, you should know better.’ But obviously, Tommy didn’t!
Now, Auto pilot Mummy has reinforced hitting or shouting to resolve conflict.
But Tommy still hasn’t been taught how to share. That was the lesson there that auto pilot Mummy completely missed. She could’ve taught and coached Tommy by explaining that Johnny was a baby, who, like Tommy, doesn’t understand the concept of sharing and that certain toys belong to certain people.
All Tommy knew and was interested in was it was his favourite Teddy not his little brothers, and he wanted it back!
Johnny didn’t want to give it back though, so Tommy would do anything in his power to reclaim his beloved possession. And he did, he hit out. Proactive Mummy would have first made a fuss of baby Johnny who was hurt, not a fuss of toddler Tommy.
Cue proactive Mummy’s chance to explain and teach Tommy, once baby Johnny had calmed down and was okay.
It’s frightening for a toddler to see how he can actually hurt someone he really loves, and at first glance, to auto pilot Mummy, Tommy’s reaction looks deliberate, as if he wanted to hurt his baby brother. But despite what morally he thought was right, it was his teddy after all, it wasn’t intentional, he hasn’t developed morals, this is something he’ll learn from his parents and being in these uncomfortable situations. The truth of the matter is, he simply couldn’t control his emotions.
Instead of ostracizing Tommy and sending him to the naughty step or giving him a label such as naughty or bad boy, proactive Mummy needs to involve him and show him that she loves him, but his behaviour was not appropriate.
It’s proactive Mummy’s moral duty to make it clear that Tommy must never put his hands on anyone and to empathize that she understands he was hurt that Johnny had his favourite teddy, and she knows why he reacted the way he did, but hurting someone else because he feels hurt doesn’t resolve things, it makes it worse. Giving him examples helps him to make connections with how his actions make others feel, for example, explaining to Tommy that what he had done was not acceptable and that baby Johnny now feels hurt like that time when_______, then filling in a blank with a time when Tommy was hurt and upset.
This invokes empathy. He may cry as he realises what he has done was wrong. He’s learnt a powerful emotional lesson here. This is proactive Mummy’s cue to offer a little reassurance, such as a kiss or a hug.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE OKAY
This way, she demonstrates that’s it’s okay to get angry and have these emotions, they are not bad, they are trying to teach us something, and that she accepts that he was angry and that happens sometimes, but there are other ways to release that anger. So next time he feels that way, he can come and talk about his feelings. This helps open up a channel of future communication.
On the other hand, he may still not see that what he has done was wrong, so, as proactive parents, we have to be on the lookout for any repeat behaviour again so we can reinforce that lesson until he gets it.
We also need to encourage him to make it up with his baby brother, maybe kiss baby Johnny better to show his affection and forgiveness, which is important. Having a family group hug makes Tommy feel forgiven and included again and Johnny feel better too, and as a parent, peace and love feels restored.
Coaching behaviour shows unconditional love, a naughty step shows our love comes with conditions.
Anything other than unconditional love will feel like hard work because it usually relies on our children meeting our expectations, which is always going to be difficult.
It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.
Although generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.
That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US Time’ for each individual child by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time.
One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, there will be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’.
Family Us Time is still important, and finding things we all like to do is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and see where everyone’s preferences lie so we can plan to do those things together, alongside individual Us Time.
What negative beliefs to you believe about yourself?
Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.
If not overcome, self-limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success and happiness. Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority figures such as from parents and teachers.
If a child is told that they ‘Will never be any good at_____’ fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their subconscious mind. They then believe them to be true, even if years later they have proved them to be wrong. Often, they will look for ways to prove those authority figures right, albeit subconsciously. Then, when their negative self-beliefs and attitude inevitably causes them to fail, they’ll think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never be any good at it, and look—they were right!’
We need to challenge our children’s self-limiting beliefs and find out where they came from and whether or not the source was correct or reliable?
Seeking to prove them wrong, rather than right, and reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do. There will always be things they find challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid them or believe they are unachievable, nothing is impossible with the right support and encouragement.
Children under seven are very impressionable, they particularly take in things that upset them or stand out as most significant, especially traumatic events. They then sort and store these experiences in their subconscious mind for future reference, which then becomes available to assist them in the future.
This is helpful if the information is right or is intended to keep them safe in some way, but sometimes it can be wrong, misguided, and outdated. Information received while young is based on a young child’s perspective and may not be appropriate to them as they get older. Even when they have grown up and outgrown it, they may still be acting, thinking, or feeling based on those past experiences.
‘Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.’
This causes them to create fears and restrictions on themselves, and if others impose limiting expectations upon them, they add to a child’s own self-limiting beliefs, especially if they believe them or they remember situations or comments that reinforce them.
Fortunately, with the right encouragement, support, and belief, children can combat and overcome these self-limiting beliefs.
Children believe others over themselves most of the time, so, if they have fallen off a bike many times, their mind will tell them ‘You can’t ride a bike.’
But if we can convince them that they can. With some patience, persistence, and practice, they’ll believe us and start practicing until they eventually learn how to ride that bike. Because we have said and believe they can, they start to believe it themselves.
As Proactive Parents, we need to show them that their limiting beliefs are inaccurate and find evidence to support why they can do something that they believe they can’t.
If they say they are no good at sport, we can remind them of an occasion when they were, such as when they came first in the egg and spoon race. Our job is to question their beliefs and point out how vague they are being, by asking them in a confused tone;
‘Sport? … What sport in particular are you no good at?
And; ‘What do you mean by no good exactly?’ This will make them think less generally.
If they reply; ‘I mean I’m no good at rugby.’
We could say; ‘Well that’s not all sport, that’s just one activity, but why do you think you are no good at rugby anyway?’
They might reply with; ‘I didn’t score a try last week.’
We could then ask; ‘Did everyone else score one?’
They may respond; ‘No only two people scored a try.’
We could continue; ‘So are none of the others any good at rugby also?’
To which they would have to honestly reply; ‘No some are good.’
Regardless of talent, ability, qualifications, experience, money, or even if they follow ‘The Seven Steps to Success’ which we will reveal in later blog posts, none will make a difference without our children having Self-belief.
If they don’t believe that they can do something, then they won’t be able to do it, even if we are really encouraging and believe in them. Their self-belief influences everything, including their performance throughout school and academic potential.
These self-beliefs often lead to success in areas they feel confident and believe they can do well in, but in those they don’t, they’ll likely avoid or not do so well in.
There will be a variety of subjects in school, some they will not always enjoy, but they will be more likely to persist if they believe they can achieve good results in them, and we can help them build their self-belief by;
Believing in their capabilities — If we do, then they will.
Giving them responsibilities — Showing them that we believe and trust in them when it comes to important matters and giving them responsibilities makes them more responsible.
Helping them — If they are struggling in any subject at school, or any other area of their lives for that matter, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, we can help them overcome these obstacles and succeed by getting them the help, support, and resources they lack or need.
Encouraging them to be proactive — Taking action will give them the confidence to believe that they can achieve anything, even if they fail. It’s the fear of not being able to do a thing that stops them from believing they can. They have to gain confidence through achievement, and self-belief through doing and proving to themselves they can.
Complimenting them — Pointing out their efforts as much as their achievements and being specific. A general ‘Well done’ is not enough, we need to elaborate. Well done for what exactly? To replicate their success, they need to know exactly what it was they did so well in order for them to apply that to something else in the future.
Not over doing it — If we are too general or praise them when it’s not due, then they will not believe our praise to be genuine. Our children’s self-belief comes from the support and encouragement of others, including ourselves, but words of encouragement or trying to boost their ego with praise alone, will not work. They have to believe and feel good about themselves for genuine reasons. No matter how many times we tell them they are the best at something if they know they aren’t, they won’t be fooled. And the more they perceive us to be lying about what they think they can do, the less likely they will be to accept our genuine praise or compliments.
No matter how much praise we give or belief we have in our children, it’s what they believe and achieve, and whether it’s important to them or not, that counts, which is down to their own self-image. We’ll look at self-image in later blog posts too but over the last two weeks I’ve noticed the emails I’ve received from parents have revolved around sibling rivalry and arguments, especially during half term school holidays, so next week we’ll address The Art of Intervention.
As Proactive Parents, we are preparing our children physically, emotionally, and socially for life in the real world without us. This doesn’t just mean when they grow up and leave home, it means when they have to go anywhere or do anything without us, such as starting school and childcare.
The foundations we build to support them now, such as having routines and fostering self-confidence and self-belief within them will be essential.
Our children are our prize possession, so we have to make them feel like the prize. Their self-esteem will be determined by the respect, admiration, and appreciation they receive.
That’s why we are ultimately aiming for a Selfish child!
This word is not to be misunderstood or taken in a negative, egocentric context though. Here, when referring to making our children more selfish, we mean we are helping them to build more of the five self’s below;
SELF-BELIEF – What our children believe they can do, achieve, or be.
SELF IMAGE – How our children view themselves, for example; how they see their intelligence or physical attractiveness.
SELF RESPECT – How well our children look after and treat themselves generally, including diet and exercise.
SELF CONFIDENCE – How our children act or assert themselves and how sure they are in their own ability.
SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves they think they should or the way they want to be.
These five selves all impact upon one another, but not always. One child may have a good self-image and find themselves attractive, but may not have any confidence in their academic ability. Another may excel at sports but have low self-esteem in every other area of their life, it just depends on what they place value or importance on in their lives.
Children just want to fit in and feel like everyone else. If such a definition as ‘normal’ exists, then that’s how we want to help our children feel.
We can do this by validating at every opportunity that how our children feel is normal and okay, such as, it’s normal to get angry when someone snatches a toy off them.
This can be difficult, as our first response to our children’s undesirable behaviour is to insist they act or feel a certain way that’s more acceptable. For example, if they get angry and shout or hit out at the injustice they think they’ve received from the other child who snatched a toy off them, our first reaction would be to tell them not to be angry and that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ and usually we insist they say sorry to the other child they have upset, but we can often forget to validate that their feelings of anger were normal under those circumstances. Because they can’t articulate in words to the child who snatched the toy off them how they feel, they get frustrated and angry. Yet most if not all children would feel the same.
The reason we don’t validate their anger is because we don’t like to see our children angry as it can be an unkind, ugly emotion at times, so we try to prevent or stop it, and this serves to make our children feel bad or wrong for feeling angry.
We can only go so far in helping our children though, they play the most important part themselves, so it’s time to step back and allow them to be themselves.
This should come naturally, yet with so much influence and input from others, over time, they can find being themselves is not so good. That’s when they try to change themselves to fit in or to become accepted by others. This can be damaging to their self-esteem and can affect their self-confidence in all areas of their lives, sometimes creating unhealthy habits.
Our children knowing themselves is essential to their happiness, health, and success. But only they can learn who they really are and discover what they really like, without knowing this, they will be aiming at the wrong goals in life.
Socrates the philosopher once said ‘Know thyself’ but this can be perplexingly difficult for our children at times as they are constantly changing.
We can support them in their uncertainty by helping them form a positive impression of themselves and life in general while they are young. This is important because they carry their beliefs about themselves as a child into adulthood, and those beliefs determine what they do and who they become in the future. Our children will become whoever they believe themselves to be. Yet a large contribution of beliefs and their self-image will be formed from other people’s perspectives.
Unfortunately, other people’s negative opinions about them can stick in their young, impressionable minds, even as adults. These create self- limiting beliefs’ which we will explore in the next blog, that can hold them back if not challenged.
The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’
When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.
Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake though, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. This can be a good motivator for not wetting the bed in the future, being wet, cold, and uncomfortable at night is not a nice feeling.
As long as we don’t get mad or upset with our child, this is how they will learn.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE
We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss, by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.
The actual issue of bedwetting does need exploring, but shouldn’t prevent them from sleeping once their pyjamas and bedding has been changed.
If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.
It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.
SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE
If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor.
They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day.
Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all. If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition.
Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?
Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?
Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as, have they been emotional throughout the day because they fell out with their best friend or because dad is working away for the night?
Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful.
This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too.
We may even already be aware of a possible cause of emotional stress for them such as having a new baby sibling, bereavement, moving to a new house, starting childcare, or a parent leaving home.
All of these things can be stressful for a small child, emotionally challenging, and are common underlying causes of regression.
If stress and anxiety is the culprit, we have to handle the situation just as empathetically and positively as we would a physical medical condition that is also out of their control.
BOOST THEIR SELF-ESTEEM
This means praising them when they call out mid flow in the middle of the night for making good progress by noticing as it is happening, how we react in response will either help or hinder their progress at this point. Getting frustrated and saying things such as ‘why didn’t you get up and go straight to the toilet sooner, or, not again, or, I thought you had grown out of this’ will only damage their self-esteem. This is the next part of the U URSELF Routine that we will explore in the next blog ‘Esteem’
What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children.
We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!
MOTIVATE TO PROGRESS
What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting.
In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time.
Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development. What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future.
A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pullup, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see.
A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.
GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY
I always find that children who are given responsibility over their own lives, no matter how young, overcome challenges and progress quicker than those whose parents do everything for them and take control. This doesn’t mean not helping or being involved as a parent and leaving them to sort out themselves, but taking a back seat at times. It’s natural to want to love, protect, support, and do everything for them, but this can serve to make them feel as though they are a passenger on their journey of life. Events and experiences are out of their control and influence. There often seems little point in them making much of an effort to try or change.
Helping strip their wet bedding off their bed and putting it in the washing machine with your help, then choosing what fresh bedding goes back on their bed next or what pyjamas to wear all involve them in their own self-care. Instead of feeling low self-esteem at what can be an embarrassing time, they now display self-love and respect. They are helping themselves, and we are allowing them to feel good in a situation that could make them feel bad if handled insensitively.
It’s their bedwetting issue to address and solve. This way, they’ll look for solutions rather than feeling helpless and resigned to a life of wet nights, forming a habit that may be difficult to change later on. Now, in no instance are they responsible or to blame for their bedwetting, we are not suggesting that ever, but if anyone has any influence over changing it, they do!
And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower.
Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves.
They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility.
SEEK THE CAUSE NOT THE SYMPTOM
Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my soon to be published book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting. But let’s just say for now that their bad behaviour isn’t always that bad.
The less of a big issue we can make out of their bed wetting, and the bigger the fuss we can make over a dry bed, the quicker the preferred behaviour will become a habit. We can best help, however, by uncovering the source of their underlying emotional issue or anxiety they are currently experiencing and focusing on that, rather than the presenting symptom of bedwetting. Once that has been addressed, the bed wetting, in time, if not left long enough unaddressed to become a habit, will resolve itself.
Well it’s happened the first coming of age milestone, our first-born turns 16!
It’s an emotional day.
Like all loving parents, our children are our life. Everything we do, we do it for you. But soon you’ll be doing stuff for yourself, now you’ll have your national insurance number you’ll be able to work and legally able to do other things we’d rather you didn’t. But so far parenthood has been a very rewarding journey, full of love and laughter, and we just want you to know Holly how very proud your Dad and I are of you.
You had a tough entry into the world, giving me a tough time in the process, but since your initial birthday you have been an easy child ever since, and we want to thank you for giving us the best 16 years of our lives so far.
You’re funny, confident, caring, and full of that zest for life.You are always up to trying new things and giving anything a go, always facing your fears with determination, whilst always being thoughtful and empathetic towards others.
We’re so eternally grateful for everything you have taught us, especially all that’s good about this world.
We can all remember that moment we brought our first-born home from hospital.
On tonight’s Snow Moon I will reflect on the day you were born.I remember that snowy February day like it was yesterday, my husband Paul putting the car seat down in the middle of the living room and us both staring at our new arrival Holly, for what felt like hours.
We were just in awe of her. Scared and anxious at the same time.
All those fears surfaced.
How would we cope?
What do we do if she cries?
How will we know what she needs?
What if we don’t know how to be good parents?
Now on her sixteenth birthday, as a Mum, I feel so proud, privileged and happy to have come this far, to have learnt so much but more importantly, to love and feel loved by such a smart, wonderful, funny, kind and crazy daughter.
The pride and love I feel for her every day are overwhelming. Making that difficult birth and all those doubts and fears pale into insignificance.
Yes, even the toddler tantrums and teenage angst has been worth every minute.
So much so, I feel saddened that she is growing up way to fast, and I long for those baby days back.
Yes, children change your life in many ways, but always for the better.
It may be hard to imagine now when you’re in the thick of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, but it’s in those ordinary moments together, that one day, you’ll linger with your memories longing to go back.
Parenting is a very rewarding time and can be lots of fun if we let it. Enjoy and treat every day as a special one, because while your child is young, every day really is special and full of firsts. First words, first steps, first pee on the potty, first day at school, first boyfriend, all of which are magical moments for you and your child to cherish.
Believe me, the time really does go so quickly, one day you are crying into your pillow, begging for some sleep while they are teething, the next you are crying into a tissue as you are waving them off to university!
One day in the not so distant future, those dreaded night feeds, school runs, class assembly’s, duvet days and trips to the dentist, will become the best moments in our lives.
Today they are ordinary every day events, although tomorrow they’ll become the most extraordinary, priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time in our lives. Time that all too often we take for granted because we are disillusioned that the work and worries that occupy our mind, are the things that need our attention the most.
Yet, neither now nor in the future will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do.
After environment, other physical factors such as Illness and pain can be a cause of sleep disruptions. If a child has a fever or rash, are severely lethargic or unresponsive, then we can assume they’re ill and need immediate medical attention. Teething or colic pain is not always visible but should subside of its own accord. Not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep, I know, but there are over the counter remedies to help with this period. If constant over a few days, then it may not be teething. You should always contact your GP or out of hours if you are concerned. Even if it turns out to be teething, it’s always best to get it checked, as our children can’t let us know how they are feeling. But we can usually visually tell or sense if our children are responding differently, always follow your gut instinct, you know your child better than anyone else.
If unsure of the severity of their pain, there’s a general test I like to recommend; next time they awake crying at night, let them hop into bed with you. If their pain magically disappears as soon as they jump into bed, it’s not going to be pain keeping them awake.
We can be sure pain is not the cause of their sleeplessness because pain remains, regardless of where or who they sleep with.
If your child has a chronic medical condition or they have experienced stress or trauma, such as a parent leaving, you might feel sorry or guilty and encourage them to co-sleep with you for comfort. We need to reflect on the beliefs we have around our children’s illnesses or circumstances to see if we are trying to overcompensate unnecessarily. Asking ourselves honestly whether they need our comfort to help them go to sleep, or whether we are interfering with their necessity to sleep alone because of our own emotions and beliefs.
Are we looking for comfort and company, or projecting our own fears and anxieties onto them?
If they are ill or under any sort of stress, they will need to sleep more than ever.
It’s tempting to comfort and soothe them to sleep at these difficult times but when will the cut-off point be? The odd night is normal such as when they are sick or have had a bad dream, but if we make it a regular habit, we could still be sleeping with our teenagers!
I know all those attachment parents out there who believe co-sleeping is best will be going wild right now, everyone’s entitled to parent their own way. I’m not saying my way is right and their way is wrong, but I have a strong attachment bond with my children, and we haven’t co-slept.
Attachments come from love, and I believe routines provide all the love and comfort our children need to feel safe, secure, healthy, and happy. Routines make us proactive and responsive as parents, helping us meet the needs of our children before they desperately need them. Mums need a good night sleep to be emotionally and physically available to their children.
We also need to maintain a loving relationship with our partners to keep that bond strong too, something sharing a bed with our children makes impossible.
I’ve encountered many parents who have this attachment parenting style, who reject routine and let their children choose what they eat, wear, and when and where they sleep. Personally, I’ve not found these children any happier than any other child. I don’t think children are experienced or capable of making the best choices for themselves. Given the choice, what child wants to go to bed early, on their own, or eat vegetables over chips?
That doesn’t make us unfair for insisting they do though. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an advocate for having close physical contact with your child. I kiss and cuddle my teenagers, and tell them I love them more than once every day, and have done so since they were born.
I also encourage them to be themselves and express how they feel and comfort and reassure them in times of need. But even though they are teenagers now, I still know what’s best for them, and yes, they both still have a bedtime routine and are in bed at a set reasonable time on a school night. Call me old fashioned, but I want them to get all the rest they can and to feel refreshed for school the next day. Obviously, they’d prefer to be on their electronic devices, but we take them off them at bedtime so they can’t. I’m not punishing them though. I’m helping them.
I encourage you to try letting your child lead the way if you want to experiment, then come back to a routine if that’s not working.
It’s a lot harder to provide consistent routines and to encourage our children to adopt healthy eating and sleeping habits, but that’s the kind of nurturing that being a parent is all about. They can spend the rest of their adult lives making their own independent choices regarding what’s right for them, until then, let’s show them the healthiest ways.
As previously said, we offer our children routines for their own good, out of love. That doesn’t mean that they are going to feel good about them in the beginning though.
If we have co-slept with our child for the last six years, but now would like them to move into their own bed in their own room, then we need to understand how they might feel. From their perspective, we’re telling them to move from the shared, warm, safe comforts that they have always known to the cold, lonely, dark, unknown room across the landing.
Understandably, this new bedtime routine would upset them and seem more like a punishment for growing up. Their behaviour toward the changes, which could lead to angry or emotional protests or regressive behaviours such as, bed wetting or clinginess, is not intended to upset us for moving them into their own room. This is merely a normal reaction to change and to feeling afraid, anxious, or unsettled.
Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be okay. We must be understanding. Calming any fears they have in a calm and confident manner whilst still communicating to them it’s not a bad change in circumstances, it’s just different!
Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and it is possible that they can have too much sleep too. Routine is the only way to avoid too little or too much sleep.
We need to know what time they go to bed, when they wake up, and how long they sleep for in total throughout the night and day and make changes where necessary. Once we can rule out the amount of time they are sleeping as the issue, the next avenue to explore is lack of recreation or exercise throughout the day, an issue the U URSELF Routine will be able to address
WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?
Other reasons include; an inability to relax, their environment, nightmares, attention seeking, illness or pain, bedwetting, worrying, or more commonly; their inability to personally pacify themselves to sleep alone.
All of these can be resolved once identified. Once they are, a nightly routine will emerge. But a routine won’t guarantee our children will skip happily up the stairs to bed when the clock strikes seven. They’ll still be reluctant to sleep and won’t want to be isolated from the exciting activity of the home. Especially if they can hear us or their sibling’s downstairs having fun, chatting or laughing at the TV, making bedtime an issue.
Obviously, they won’t want to be going to bed alone and will try any way they can to prevent this from happening, there’s nothing we can do to make them sleep, however, we must still stick to their bedtime routine and make sure they go to their room at the appropriate time. Eventually, they will get used to this bedtime routine if it remains constant each evening, but there’s little else we can do, it’s their choice to sleep or not.
We know sleeping is an essential part of their daily routine, but they’ll see it as a fun spoiler. Even when children are familiar with and understand the benefits of their routines, if absorbed in play or watching their favourite TV programme, they won’t welcome the interruption those routines bring. Those things they enjoy doing will still always outweigh the benefits of going to bed to sleep. Unfortunately, that’s life—they have to get used to it!
WARNINGS AND REMINDERS
But we can make it easier for them to accept. The best way to do that is to give them plenty of warnings and reminders, but the worst way is to suddenly end their fun. For example, if their bedtime is at seven, and as soon as the clock turns, we abruptly say to them;
‘Come on, time for bed now!’
This can be an unwelcome surprise.
We need to gradually prepare our children with warnings and reminders first. Letting them know fifteen to ten minutes beforehand that it is nearly time for bed, gives them the chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves.
Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep will have a knock-on effect on every other part of the U URSELF Routine. Impacting upon everything they do, and every area of our children’s lives. So, there can be no excuses to stay up just a bit later at bedtime. It’s normal for children to stall going to bed and suddenly get the urge to discuss events that happened in their day. Conveniently, these important matters can never wait, even though they’ve forgotten to mention them for the last six hours or more!
In these situations, all we need to do to resolve such stalling is to let them know calmly that in future, they will need to get ready for bed a little earlier, allowing them more time to chat about their day or brush their teeth.
They may be a little more reluctant to chat about insignificant things when they realise it’ll take up the last few minutes of their playtime in the evening.
Alternatively, you may find that your child is not dawdling deliberately to stay up later, but are taking their time because they are tired, and they may actually need to go to bed a bit earlier in future?
First, we have to establish the real reasons keeping them awake. The excuses children give are not always what’s preventing them from sleeping.
If they need the toilet five minutes after they’ve been, this is unlikely to be genuine. That’s not to say our children are aware they are making excuses intentionally. Sometimes, they themselves don’t know the real reason why they can’t sleep, or why they’ve suddenly woken up halfway through the night.
We need to be aware though that whatever is keeping them from sleeping may not always be what they say.
We can help make bedtimes more inviting and cosier for our children by creating the right environment. They need to feel comfortable, safe, and secure in their bed, knowing we are nearby if they need us. The things they tend to complain about such as; it’s too cold, too light, too dark, or too scary won’t always be the actual problem keeping them awake at night. These can be symptoms of their underlying anxiety about something they cannot relate or associate with, as being the real issue. Still, we need to address these first by creating the right environment, as they could be the cause of their sleep disturbances and need to be ruled out. Making sure they have a comfortable bed in their own room that is the right temperature (not too hot or too cold) with the right amount of bedding for the season is basic. Keeping noise down helps a light or sensitive sleeper too, and then if any of these things need altering, they are easy to do.
We can regulate temperature by opening a window, using a fan, putting the heating on, or providing extra blankets to create warmth.
Any signs of light will wake them easily and affect their body clock, so it’s a good idea investing in blackout blinds or curtains. Avoiding the use of night lights or leaving landing lights on to comfort them is advisable, unless a one-off occasion such as to reassure them after a bad dream. If their physical environment is conducive to a good night’s sleep, and hunger or overtiredness can be ruled out, yet they’re still not sleeping through the night, something else is stopping them.
The usual culprits are illness, teething, and general pain, which we will address in next week’s blog post.
As we know, our children want to be with us all the time, flattering as this may be, we need our U Time, and they need their sleep. We have to find ways of encouraging them to want to go to bed and make bedtime a comfortable, relaxing experience they’ll look forward to.
There’s no Magical Cure, Sleeping Potions, or Sand Man in the world who is able to make our children sleep if they don’t want to. Nobody can really make anybody sleep if they are not willing to do so, not even a Hypnotherapist like me. But there are ways in which we can help our children to relax and feel comfortable to sleep alone, soundly throughout the night.
Physical and mental capacity is impaired with too much activity and stimulation. This can be nearly as bad as none at all, making learning to relax a useful skill.
A day at School or Nursery sandwiched between child-minders, breakfast, or After School Clubs and family and friends is exhausting and demanding for our young children. This is just what we expect our children to do as part of their normal day.
Providing an adequate amount of activity for their age and allowing them plenty of time to do things, unrushed, can help them with all the comings and goings of everyday life.
For babies, any activity or visits should be short and sweet.
It’s easy to overestimate what they need or what they are capable of tolerating. Routines such as nappy changing, bathing, or a trip to the shops are physically and mentally stimulating and exciting to them.
We might not feel we’ve exerted ourselves by taking a trip to the shops, followed by a visit to Auntie Sue’s, but our baby will have.
Everything is new to them, and as they are constantly learning and encountering different experiences, we must allow plenty of periods for them to rest and process them.
Tempting as it is to play with them for hours on end with noisy, colourful toys, or wake them for a cuddle, passing them around cooing friends and family, this can all be too much for them to tolerate.
They soon become tired and irritable for what seems like no apparent reason. Then after such a busy day, we find ourselves puzzled as to why they cannot sleep, wondering why they are fighting it.
Why don’t they just fall straight to sleep when we’ve tried our best all day to wear them out?
Well, the answer is, they simply cannot relax when they are irritable and past the point of sleep.
As they have no control over what happens to them, and no way to communicate their feelings, they become frustrated and upset.
And being picked up while fast asleep and moved can be a rude awakening that none of us would welcome.
Babies don’t understand the journey has come to an end, and it’s time to get out of the car, into the hustle and bustle of a busy supermarket. They were happy fast asleep. So, we have to be as sensitive, understanding, and accommodating to their needs as possible by offering uninterrupted, regular rest periods in order to prevent them becoming overtired and anxious.
It’s easy to spot if our children are overtired by how they behave.
Their emotions will be exaggerated, seeming unnecessary or inappropriate, displaying either frustration, sadness, anger, or all of those.
These emotions determine their behaviour, dictating how they act. Those feelings are there for a reason, they can help children regulate themselves if they understand and learn how to manage them.
When we recognise they’re feeling emotionally tired, we can reassure them they are simply tired and will feel better after some rest. Most children become emotionally stable and behave appropriately with adequate rest.
After a good night’s sleep or a short nap, they wake feeling refreshed and happy once again.
If not, then getting to the real problem and resolving the issues will be essential before expecting them to sleep well.
We need to make sure they are not anxious or stressed but are relaxed before bedtime.
Problems from the day can be left simmering in the back of their mind at bedtime, or fears over future events can bother them.
If they have things to face the next day which they are not looking forward to, such as a test at school or even a visit to the dentist, these worries can cause anxiety, manifesting as nighttime wakings.
We can help eliminate concerns they have by using Us Time to let them discuss issues openly with us each day and by offering them the chance to relax daily. Offloading some of their worries and relaxing more will provide time to think, reflect, and rationalise their thoughts and feelings (we will look at ways to do this in later blog posts when we look at Esteem and The Bother Box).Make sure you join our Newsletter so you don’t miss it!
Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. As well as helping them to process the day’s events, and to make sense of all they’ve learnt and experienced. Without adequate sleep, their mental and emotional capabilities are affected including their concentration and physical coordination. So, when tired, they are more accident prone and clumsy, their memory and learning abilities are affected, making it difficult to learn, remember, or concentrate, and their behaviour, moods, and emotions are all disrupted.
They can even experience disturbances that hinder the production of appetite controlling hormones which could be a contributing factor in possible weight gain.
Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and we’ll look at these over the next few blogs, so Stay Present until then, Em x
Wrong … this year there’s going to be a difference … it’s the old YOU we want back. Flat belly, super sexy, slim, confident, and stress-free, you remember how it used to be pre -baby (well pre -motherhood really, most of us mum’s are past the baby phase and with teenagers in toe we still blame the baby weight for not feeling great.)
Well 2020 marks a new decade, it’s a big milestone so it’s time for big changes!
January, we turn to resolutions to make changes in our lives, and the number one for most mums is to lose weight or eat healthier.
But usually by February, that all falls by the wayside as motivation wanes and our old habits return to comfortably seduce us back to the familiar foods we know and love.
As a Mum and nutritional therapist, myself, I know how all too easy it is to do. I may want to change but my family may not, and staying strong and encouraging them can be a difficult task when I’m also craving certain foods and drink.
Most of us know that we should exercise, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and get a good night’s sleep, its common sense, but how many of us actually do that every day?
And if we don’t, how can we make our kids?
Just knowing what to do, doesn’t make it automatically happen.
As Voltaire’s dictum goes;
‘That common sense is not so common’
We know what we should be doing to help ourselves as well as our children but often we just don’t know how or where to start?
As our childrens most influential role model starting with ourselves is key, and here are 7 tips to get you started in 2020.
1. No plan is a plan to fail – Snacking and eating at irregular times of the day stimulates weight gain. A good regular mealtime routine just like the one you would provide for your child as part of the U URSELF Routine is just as important for you as it is for your child. So, plan ahead, decide a menu of meals in advance and write a list of ingredients before you shop, this means you’re more likely to stick to the plan. Preparing meals in advance and batch cooking with a few key ingredients helps too, as well as taking your own packed lunch to work. Stocking your kitchen with healthy snack options and discarding unhealthy options is advisable, when we are starving it’s easy to reach for a quick fix in sugar or salt. You can’t rely on will power in those moments of weakness so best not to put temptation in front of you. To boost your motivation, keep a journal of everything you eat and drink either buy a nice notebook or use an app on your phone, there are some really good free ones where you can scan bar codes on food to keep track of every calorie or oz of fat. This can be a real eyeopener. I use MyNetDiary https://www.mynetdiary.com/ on my iPhone s its free, quick and easy!
Research has proven that those who write their goals down meaningfully increase their chances of success in achieving those goals by 30% and keeping track as in using the above app and measuring your progress along the way helps you to increase your chances of success by a whopping 60%!!!!
Reviewing your goals is a must, it keeps you motivated, on track and shows you what changes need to be made and helps you to see your progress. You can’t conveniently forget when you record what you are eating and drinking. Being honest with yourself is essential to maintaining or losing weight.
2.Meal monotony – Eat the same meals, boring I know but that’s the secret to eating less, your taste buds are less likely to overeat when you’re full, if what’s on offer is a boring plate of food they are used to, and this will stop you over eating. Plan meals in advance and shop online for the ingredients, this way you won’t be tempted to buy the foods you don’t want or need, saving you money as well as calories, opt for soup, salads, fish pulses and drink plenty of water. You may not like fish or salad for example, but love chicken and vegetables and that’s okay, just eat lots of veg instead. It’s important to find those foods that you do like, not to eat things because you think they’ll help you to lose weight. Don’t deny or forbid yourself- this is important because the reason diets don’t work long-term is because we can’t deny or deprive ourselves forever and why should we?
The key to permanent weight loss is finding a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy and live with forever, not until you reach your weight loss goal.
3.EAT MORE- for most of us it’s not how much we eat that causes us weight gain it’s what we are eating. Ironically another key to losing weight is to fill up, when we are hungry, we make unhealthy choices. Bulking up on healthy, nutritious food prevents us feeling ravenous.
Foods that are filling are those that weigh more, have larger volume and a higher water content (more on this later under Water). Fruits and fibre, beans, lentils, quinoa, oats and barley absorb water and are high in fibre. Water and fibre add bulk making you feel fuller for longer and the good news is, water and fibre have zero calories. To lose weight we need to choose more slow carbs too, these are known as low glycaemic foods or low GI foods, these make you feel full for longer as they keep your blood sugar even, preventing cravings, regulating your appetite and helping you to last longer between meals so you are less inclined to snack. These are what we call ‘good carbs. A low GI meal inhibits a spike in insulin, promoting satiety and rate of weight loss. You can find some low GI Recipes here https://www.gisymbol.com/low-gi-everyday-meal-plan/
You will consume more volume and weight without feeling hungry by adopting a low-density diet.
4.RESISTANCE EXERCISE- Now I need no excuse to resist exercise, this is something that comes naturally to me, in fact out of all the possible addictions in this world I could have, exercise is probably one of the only ones I don’t have!!!
But I’m only joking, when talking about resistance exercise I’m referring to muscle strengthening. We need to work our arms, shoulders, legs, hips, back, chest and abdomen at least twice a week to be of any benefit, using heavy weights to lift or using our body weight such as push or sit ups, or using resistance bands, if you’re a scaffolder or do manual work you’re ahead of the game. Also, if you do any sporting activities regularly such as rugby or gymnastics. But you do need to push yourself when strengthening those muscles to the point where you feel you can’t possible do one more lift of crunch. But this muscle building needs to be done gradually so you progress over time and eventually 15 repetitions turn into 50, as your strength and stamina increase. This is important as we age as resistance exercises can help to prevent brittle bones, and increasing your muscle mass helps you to burn more calories, so the more muscle the better. If you are reducing your calorie intake you will lose muscle as well as fat however, when including muscle strengthening exercises you keep hold of more muscle and end up losing more fat. It also accelerates your metabolism which means that you continue to burn calories hours later following exercise, according to Melby et al., 1993 your BMR is elevated for up to 15 hours after exercise, due to the oxidation of body fat, and it increases the effectiveness of your nutrient uptake in your muscles reducing insulin-related fat storage.
Seems there are no better reasons to use weight resistance training to burn fat and build muscle – this doesn’t mean though, you have to go to the gym lifting heavy weights, as a parent especially of younger children you probably won’t have time or a babysitter to allow for this, but don’t worry, all you need is a couple of hand weights or a resistant leg exerciser that can fold away, or some stretchy bands, and if you only have ten minutes a day that’s all you need to feel and see the positive changes that can occur over time, with consistent use. Excuse me while I convert my clothes horse back to the weights bench I bought one January, aeons ago….
Anyone who knows me will know I love a drink, but I know that although alcohol is socially acceptable and even associated with good times and celebrations, it’s still a neurotoxic, psychoactive drug that depresses the central nervous system. That’s why the government offer guidelines for how many units we should drink a week, but who pays attention or really knows what they are? Well in the UK it’s no more than 14 units per week for both genders last time I checked https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/
Still means little to me, after a few I’ve lost count of how many glasses of wine I’ve drunk let alone units per glass. But if we are counting calories shockingly, for anyone trying to lose weight, there’s approximately 500 calories in a bottle of wine!
Add to that the fact alcohol makes us feel hungry and crave unhealthy food types, then its best to stay away completely if we want to be slim and trim in 2020. But I’m no party pooper, if you socialise there’s great alcoholic beverage alternatives these days or low alcoholic ones.
Low alcoholic drinks are poised for big business in 2020 but I don’t particularly like the taste of them, in fact, most of us drink for the buzz not the flavour we get from booze, so many of us will be better off with a normal soft drink. My favourite is flavoured, fizzy water, it still feels like a treat compared to the plain still water I drink all day, as it’s got the sweet fizz to fool my brain into thinking I’m having a reward. This is important as having rewards is vital to changing our habits. Some of us may not be motivated by rewards so we may want to focus on avoiding a negative consequence instead, such as a hangover. As we age, we do tend to suffer more with hangovers as our bodies struggle to metabolise alcohol, and we fight intoxication and dehydration, then as soon as our liver has had enough, we get a headache.
6.WATER – THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
That’s when our faithful sober friend, water helps, by drinking buckets of the stuff, we dilute that alcohol and relieve that banging head.
Our bodies are around 60% to 70% water in weight a day. Some of us can be carrying an extra 10 to 15 pounds of excess water daily, which has become trapped in our tissues.
This excess water causes abdominal bloating, face & eye puffiness and cellulite, and it can be caused from many things such as;
• Food sensitivities
• Nutrient & antioxidant deficiencies
• Hormones i.e. menstrual cycle
• Not enough protein
• Not enough WATER!!!
Yes, ironically not drinking enough water can actually cause water retention.
Our kidneys need water to flush toxins and waste from our bodies, but when water reserves are low i.e., we haven’t drunk enough water, our kidneys end up storing water.
On top of that, not enough water and our lymphatic system slows down too.
When this happens and our bodies can no longer carry waste away, that waste then accumulates in fat cells leading to cellulite, particularly in women.
And what better reason do we need to increase our water intake, than the fact that it suppresses our appetites, and naturally helps our bodies to metabolise stored fat?
As an added bonus drinking enough water gives us clearer complexions.After only 5 days of not drinking any alcohol and increasing my water intake someone commented to me this week, on how good my skin and complexion looked.
And of course, when we are drinking plenty of water then we are not drinking too much caffeine, fizzy drinks and fruit juices. All of which cause us to gain weight and increase our daily calorie intake considerably.
WEIGHING ALL THIS UP
Our weight changes due to our hydration levels.
Therefore, if you do weigh yourself regularly, for accuracy make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels. For more in-depth readings you can also buy Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis [BIA] scales, because these can measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels.
HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED?
Water is essential for survival.
We can live without most things but not water.
It maximises our muscle functions, rids our bodies of excess water, and increases our metabolism. But to do all that efficiently we need to drink about two litres [or eight glasses of water] a day, for our bodies to function properly.
On top of that, in hot weather we should all be drinking more than the recommended daily amounts.
And did you know that if you are overweight, you will need an extra glass for every twenty pounds of excess weight you carry?
HOW CAN WE INCREASE OUR WATER CONSUMPTION IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT?
– TOP TIP 1
Get into the habit of always carrying a bottle of water with you wherever you go!
– TOP TIP 2
ADD WATER TO MEALS
To help with weight loss, drink plenty of water prior to and during meals.
Also, drink your daily calories in vegetable soups, because soups fill up our stomachs more and for longer.
Research has also shown that low energy density foods- that is foods that have a high-water content such as stews and soups, and foods such as salads and fruits that are naturally high in water; reduce appetite and make us eat less high calorie foods.
So, we need to increase our intake of water rich foods, as well as foods that absorb water during cooking, such as rice and pasta, if we want to lose weight without feeling hungry.
WATER THE ELIXIR OF WEIGHT LOSS
So, there you have it, weight gain can be attributed to water retention, and paradoxically water can be the answer to weight loss.
So, in either case drink up if you’re trying to lose weight!
7. SLEEP- We are all different and the amount of sleep each one of us needs will vary, some will bounce out of bed after 6 hours of sleep, others need 9 hours to feel refreshed. Quality and quantity of sleep is important. As parents though both of these are usually in short supply. Getting our children into a good bedtime sleeping routine early on is best as that will give us the time we need to relax, unwind and eventually get a good night’s sleep ourselves.
Lack of sleep is not only detrimental to children, it’s also detrimental to our own mental state. If we can sleep soundly, undisturbed, and comfortable for around seven hours a night, we will be in a better position to deal with our children the next day.
But if we scrape by on a couple of broken hours here or there, we are likely to find ourselves overreacting on Auto Pilot Parenting Mode.
Everybody experiences times when they can’t sleep at night, but if its ongoing with no apparent cause, and it isn’t to do with physical factors such as temperature or something we can identify with such as pain, then we need to be proactive and find out what the cause is.
Being a parent is exhausting enough when we can sleep, let alone when we can’t.
Our children can seem more challenging at those times when we are tired, and their unwanted behaviour can seem worse than it actually is.
Although their behaviour is actually worse when they don’t get enough sleep. This is because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is more active when a parent or child is sleep deprived. This explains why a tired child is usually very emotional for no reason and parents are angry, impatient, and frustrated more.
Together, a sleep deprived parent and child is an emotional disaster.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, none of us should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep.
Lack of sleep is also accumulative, and its much harder to catch up on missed sleep than you may think.
That’s why we have to catch up on sleep whenever we can.
Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night. Parents sometimes avoid their children taking daytime naps, fearing they won’t sleep as long at night, but the reverse is actually true.
Sleep deprived children have the worst sleeping habits, and those who nap in the day, actually sleep better at night. Children who need, but do not take a nap in the day, become overtired.
Once irritable, they find it difficult getting off to sleep or staying asleep throughout the night. This results in further irritability and oversensitivity the next day, causing challenging behaviour which can then lead to hyperactivity, especially at bedtime when they should be tired.
As children get older, days get longer, and nights shorter, then, more than ever, they need to rest from all the stimulation and digest the information and experiences from the day. We need to allow them the freedom to sleep whenever they feel the need to, not just when we want them or don’t want them to. This way, they will sleep more soundly at night.
If their mind and body is telling them to sleep, no matter what their age, from five weeks to fifteen years, then they need it.
How do you feel when you do not get your nightly quota of sleep?
Do you ever feel so tired you struggle to get through the next day, only to go to bed that night unable to go to sleep?
Children do too! They get overtired and stimulated, resulting in unhealthy sleeping patterns. The only solution is for them to sleep whenever they can, to restore the balance and improve their sleeping habits.
Think about a time when your child kept you awake all night for whatever reason. Then imagine how they must have felt and how tired they must have been the next day, probably ten times worse than you, I bet.
They do not understand why either we or they themselves are irritable, annoyed, upset, and emotional when tired. This becomes a sleep deprived combo not to be crossed.
We need sleep to normalise hormones: melatonin and cortisol. Cortisol regulates our immune systems, metabolism, blood sugar and stress response any lack of sleep will instantly impact your cortisol levels. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and is needed to regulate metabolism, the immune system, reproduction and co-ordination. Not having a regular sleeping routine or working nights or shifts, change these hormones. If trying to lose weight sleep deprivation won’t help, research shows when you sleep less you eat and drink more calories and if you are fighting to stay awake, you are probably going to turn to high sugar and high fat foods and drinks.
Unfortunately, for many of us we spend that tossing and turning. Comfort is crucial for this heavenly retreat we call bed, so investing in this is a true investment in our health and wellbeing. Satin sheets are great anti-aging, skin creasing fabric for looking younger, longer and also for cheeky sensual early nights with a loved one, but for comfort, cotton in the highest thread count that you can afford is the best chance of a soothing, peaceful deep sleep.
It’s also advisable to get into a regular sleep cycle by going to be bed and waking up the same time each day, including weekends (forget those lazy Sunday lie ins…ooops I forgot we don’t get those anyway we are parents!)
And don’t eat big meals where you are stuffed, or drink alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed. Poor nutrition can also cause chronic fatigue, so avoiding sugar and stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate is recommended along with including more vitamin C into your diet and eating healthy antioxidant-rich foods.
Keeping your bedroom around 16°C to 18°C degrees is the best temperature for encouraging a good night’s sleep too.
So, whether its a fresh start you’re after or finding the old You that you know and love, I wish you a happy, healthy, fun, sprinkled with sleep, Mumilicious 2020!
As the build-up to Christmas begins, we dream of cosy nights cuddled around a fairy-lit tree in a onesie, warmed by tipples and rich treats, while surrounded by gifts and carols. However, the reality often is that, what should be a time of joy and laughter usually ends up in tears and drama!
Because we are trying so hard to be perfect parents, purchasing perfect gifts, in order to make the perfect Christmas day special for everyone, frivolously spending, organising, cooking, cleaning, writing cards, wrapping gifts, amid the chaos of dirty nappies, sleepless nights, toddler tantrums or teenage angst!
Being home all day in pj’s watching movies and indulging in food and drink, may sound like a perfect day when we are stressed at work, but after a few days home with all the family, and unhelpful visitors coming to stay, the Christmas spirit soon fades and the only spirit you’ll want to feel will be in a glass with a dash over ice.
Children easily get bored, they need their tiresome routines to keep them stimulated, exercised, rested, healthy and content.
No matter how many hundreds of pounds we’ve lavishingly spent on toys and entertainment in the hope of some peace, squabbling with siblings will always be their preferred past time, especially when fuelled with sugar, late nights and too many new toys to choose from causing stimulation over load.
But there is a way to survive these Christmas holiday’s with our kids when feeling in despair or when you’re losing control of your children and don’t know how to get it back.
Stop fighting them.
Fighting against them in
a constant battle about everything and feeling defeated all the time will get
My advice, which may surprise you is to go along
with your children whenever you feel totally powerless and see what happens.
I’m not suggesting you leave your children to their own devices and let them walk all over you, encouraging them to take advantage of your apathy. I just want you to try and accept and allow their demands temporarily, while you regain your confident composure and sense of authority and self.
This will undoubtedly show your children that you’re not accepting their behaviour powerlessly. Instead, you’re showing them that you don’t mind either way how they behave.
What? I hear you shout; you most certainly do mind
how they behave?
Bear with me on this. This reverse psychological approach not only confuses children somewhat, but as intended, it equips parents to deal with their childrens behaviour, trust me, it works. But it does mean letting go and going with the flow.
LETTING GO OF CONTROL
Our aim as parents should not be to control our children, but to allow them the freedom to be themselves and to grow as unique individuals.
Too much control can restrict our children’s potential to become autonomous, decision making, happy, and healthy individuals. And the reality is, we can’t control our children’s every action or emotion even if we try. It’s difficult enough trying to control our own actions and emotions, let alone our children’s. That’s why the only solution we really have is to release some of that control.
We can do this by acknowledging that our children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it. If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs. As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control.
Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling. As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance.
We can feel safe, then, to let go of
some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.
LEARNING TO LET GO EXERCISE
Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to
let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are
about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent,
your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more
aware and vigilant outside.
In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of
controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a
mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those
fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself
it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the
end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of
not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean
any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward,
and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you
don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or
playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!
This is your chance to let go for
fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step
back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a
few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly
or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.
Over time, as we practice doing this
exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then,
gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no
matter what, even when we venture outside in public.
The more often you practice this
exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the
supermarket, it’s still okay. When they
finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the
fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting
to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing
We’ve still got 4 weeks to practice this
exercise before Christmas is upon us, so let’s start today, take a deep breath,
and go with the flow, you’ve got this!
As a Childminder, whenever one of my little ones start school it’s always a proud, yet emotional moment for me.
Those bonds we
share everyday are strong and although they are not my own children, a piece of
my heart goes with them on their 1st day at school, as I fondly
remember them as babies and; their first babblings, to articulate words and sentences,
leaning to feed themselves, spag bol up the walls Picasso style, potty
training, learning to crawl, walk, skip, hop, jump, make marks on paper (or
furniture, floors and walls!) sing their
first nursery rhymes, funny comments, and building their first brick tower or
They are all mini
moments in history, etched on our memories forever.
In these moments
of reflection, I feel proud that I’ve helped them, along with their loving
parents, get this far. Helping to build foundations I know, will set them in
good stead for their futures of unlimited possibilities.
Who knows what each child will become?
Every child has the potential to benefit society
and even change the world.
Right now, you’ll never know the impact your child may have upon
In the absence of
other people’s opinions and limiting beliefs, children can realise their
dreams. If we felt when we were younger, that becoming Prime Minister wasn’t an
aspiration that we could achieve, that doesn’t mean our children can’t. I
suspect Margaret Thatcher’s parents didn’t expect her to become the first
female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the first female Head of National
Government in Europe, but she did it!
From humble beginnings
we all grow!
Yes, today one of our little ones, starts her first day at nursery, and I’m reminded how very lucky I am to share in their life, and to have been given such a great responsibility and privilege, as we have with all the other children before them and yet to come.
Not one child we
have cared for over the past fifteen years has just been another child. Each
child is special, all unique individuals, impacting our lives in numerous
different ways, all thankfully good.
I can remember
every single one, even those in their twenties who refuse my Social Media friend
requests today lol!
And we are proud
to be Godparents to many too.
So why do I love
Today I was told I was loved, and all it took was a
Today I felt the love and all I did was read a
Today a child fell over and all I could be was
I COULDN’T WORK WITH KIDS
People joke, ‘I don’t know how you do your job; I
couldn’t work with kids all day!’
And I ponder why?
As I swing in the sunshine at the park, listening
to all the children laughing and playing.
I get to walk through nature every day, alongside
little inquisitive people, who see everything with fresh eyes and awe, no
matter what the season.
They get excited by the allure of a puddle of rain
water, they notice the clouds that pass them by, the ever-changing trees
swaying in the breeze, and the birds singing, while balancing on its branch
Such simple things tend to please.
IT’S ONLY THE SCHOOL RUN
Yes, it’s only the school run and a normal day just
like any other, we may be all hurried and worried and racing to get it done, but
young children find it fascinating, amazed but such simplicity and beauty. They
see what we’ve forgot to notice.
Everyday I’m blessed to have little friends who
point these gifts of nature out to me, for without them, I would be oblivious
to all the splendour around.
TREES ARE GREEN
All too often I hear a child asking a grownup;
‘What colour are the trees?’
And the grownup will smile knowingly and say;
‘Well, trees are green.’
But a child will know better.
Yes, children are younger and wiser, their mission
always fun, naturally happy and full of possibilities, of things not yet done.
Love, laughter and joy is always present,
especially when working with children, that’s why I love my job!
back to that dreaded school run every day!
I know all
too well how you feel, I’ve been doing those school runs for fifteen years and
about five years ago I began to dislike them myself, usually when I was skating
down the lane with a pushchair and tribe of little people, through the winter
ice and snow or when it started bucketing down with rain at precisely 3pm when I
was leaving the house, or on those sweltering summer days stuck in morning
mayhem traffic, while getting a tribe of little ones in and out of the car.
But then I realised
one thing, the daily school run or wherever else
we need to go, still takes a journey to get there, whether we stop to notice
all the splendour around us or stress out about the weather or traffic.
I know we’re tired, busy and don’t
have the time to waste, standing and staring at trees and clouds. But do we
have time not to?
Children are naturally present in each
and every moment. They see the world and are in awe of its beauty and newness,
they’re not tired of life. They enjoy exploring all it has to offer and have
all the time in the world to stand and stare. The school run is a chance for
them to appreciate the beautiful blue sky, with white, fluffy clouds, making
unusual shapes. They muse at the sun shining on the dew drops, glistening as
they dance on the lush green blades of grass. This beautiful love of life and
nature, is the reason why children wake up so early in the morning. They are
excited about the adventure that lay ahead each day and they don’t want to miss
out on anything or waste time sleeping.
THE RAINBOW IS THE TREASURE
To children, the journey is as
relevant as the destination. They couldn’t care less about the pointless pot of
gold, at the end of the rainbow, they’re more interested in the beautiful
colours of the rainbow itself. If we can remember to think more like them
again, as we once did as children, this makes life a lot easier and more
enjoyable, not only for our children but for us too.
We all need a bit of daily fresh air, but by simply taking our children out for a walk- in nature, we offer them an adventure. From bug hunting to blackberry picking, adventures don’t feel like exercise but fun. Yesterday while walking home from school in my neighbourhood, despite a sprinkling of rain, we foraged for Blackberries.
LOVE OF NATURE
them out in all weathers, wet, windy, snowy or sunny conditions will encourage
or rekindle a love of the elements. This way, their surroundings become an
opportunity to explore, rather than an exercise or inconvenience.
the weather there’s no excuse not to go outside.
no bad weather, only bad clothes!’
long as they’ve got a raincoat and
wellies, jumping in muddy puddles will be all the exercise they need.
A FORM OF MEDITATION
in touch with nature is said to be more beneficial, than any exercise they may
do while outdoors.
a stroll can clear their minds like a form of meditation too, reducing their
thinking activity and providing them with a form of freedom and escapism.
FOCUS & PRODUCTIVITY
also need regular outdoor break times at school, to provide some relief from
all that concentrating in the classroom.
a walk or having a run around the yard helps them to go back into lessons, with
a clearer more focused mind, improving their productivity.
HABITUAL EXERCISE & SLEEP
ditching the pushchair and allowing toddlers to walk on the school run with
siblings, is a great habitual form of exercise.
It may take a little longer to get
where we’re going, but rest assured our children will eat and sleep better, and
be in a better mood for it, making everyone’s life happier. Nothing beats fresh
air when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.
Exposure to sunshine is also great for
providing children with vitamin D, which is good for absorbing phosphate and
calcium, for healthy muscles, bones, and
teeth. It’s unlikely they’ll get enough vitamin D from their diet, so sunshine
Walking to and from school is a great
way to start and finish each day. And best of all it can be fun and free!
Starting School or Childcare for the first time, is just as anxious a time for us parents as it it is for our children so, it’s just as important to plan ahead and prepare ourselves as much as them.
It is vital that we paint a positive picture beforehand to our children when it comes to starting school or childcare and that we make sure they view any changes optimistically as a positive, enjoyable experience. We can do this by telling them about all of the fun things they will get up to at school such as painting, play dough, and meeting new friends.
Giving them something to look forward to builds excitement and helps them to understand what to expect. A proactive approach would also be taking them to visit the school environment to meet the teachers or carers before they actually start. Also, explaining to them why they are going there, when they are going, who else will be there, and what is expected of them when they are there?
It is also a good idea to encourage them to ask any questions that they may have, such as where are the toilets?
Or where is the Lego kept?
Answering their questions and making it clear to them that we will be back to collect them after they have had a play, helps to alleviate any fears or concerns that they may have.
This preparation is essential before they start. School, nursery, or a child minders home, are always full of new people and unknown experiences. At first this can be daunting for any child, especially if they have never been left with anyone, other than family members before. Being proactive means, we expect that our children may not take to a new place or person straight away, we understand that we are asking them to go to an unknown place, full of unfamiliar strangers.
We may know it’s a safe place but our children may not, so we have to communicate this to them, this means being careful not to project or transfer our own anxieties, worries or fears onto our children.
Our children pick up automatically on how we are feeling. We may be telling them how much fun it is going to be at school, but if we are anxious and fretting over whether they will enjoy their first day or not, they will sense it.
When they sense our apprehension, they will think that there is something to be afraid of, and that they should be scared or worried too. Equally, if they excitedly run into school on their first day with not so much as a backward glance or goodbye, then that’s okay too. They don’t have to be happy or sad whenever we are not around. It’s natural that our children will not want to leave us because, they love us and want to be with us. We provide them with warmth, safety, comfort and love, but if they can’t wait to leave us and try out new things, it also shows what a great job we have done in helping them to feel secure and confident without us.
We just have to allow them to settle in, in their own way, in their own time. Providing we feel relaxed and optimistic about the changes, eventually they will too.
This can mean leaving our children, despite their kicking and screaming protests, all incidentally staged for our benefit. If this is too much to bare then, finding someone else to drop them off, until they get used to being left may help.
Guaranteed they will not perform so much, in front of an unemotionally, detached, audience, especially if they know that person is not going to give in to them, or lavish them with attention. As a childminder, I have seen it hundreds of times over the years, whenever I drop other people’s children off to school, they skip in happily, yet if their parents take them, it’s a full on, award winning Oscar performance, of tears and tantrums.
KEEP A CLEAR PERSPECTIVE
Keeping a clear perspective of the situation, and remembering that we are sending our children to school, and we are not evacuating them as some children once endured in the war, helps.
The worst thing we can do is, show our children our own anxiety. Being mindful of how our own emotions have an effect on our children and refusing to offer them any undue attention when they are over reacting is critical.
As children, we may have felt insecure at times, and there may have been occasions that caused us apprehension, such as going to school, but they were our issues and feelings not our children’s. Even if our children do display anxiety or emotions that are distressing, we need to be able to calm and reassure them that, everything will be okay. We cannot do that if we are panicking or emotional ourselves. Keeping in mind that children who experience the most separation anxiety, usually are those whose parents are anxious about leaving them.
We convey our fears by; continually kissing our children more than once when dropping them off, calling them back for a kiss or a cuddle once they have gone off to play, picking them up or carrying them in our arms and apologetically confirming how they are feeling with words like ‘I know, I’m sorry Mummy won’t be long’.
All of these behaviours are going to naturally upset our children further. This is made especially worse if, a teacher or child carer has to physically prize our children off us as though they are taking our children away from us against our will.
Once we stop feeling anxious, we can actually help to proactively prepare our children for change, and they will relax too.
Over the past fifteen
years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age
groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt
the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.
Now, experience has shown
me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more
free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.
This is when they have
real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and
When we interfere or try
to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and
inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative
or positive attention seeking behaviours.
Our children crave our
time and attention and delight in any we offer. They look to us for acceptance
that they are doing it the right way. But when it comes to play, there is no right or wrong way, so we can
encourage them to do it their way.
Even if they are
technically wrong, we can allow them to think for themselves and show them that
we don’t mind. If they colour the grass
purple when drawing a picture, then that’s okay, it’s their picture, we can
approve of it exactly as they want it to be. The grass doesn’t have to be
There’s a time and a place for formal learning and fact finding and a time and a place for freedom, love, and acceptance. Our children won’t grow up believing the grass is purple, because we haven’t corrected them or criticised their picture when they were three years old. They’ll soon learn its green by themselves, if given the opportunity to play outside. But they will grow up to feel creative, confident and with a healthy level of self-esteem, when we give them the freedom to express themselves in way’s we don’t think are correct.
Going back to work after spending time at home, looking after the children, can be nerve wracking. But there comes a point for most of us, when we feel ready to get back into it, or feel we need to financially return to work.
There’s also those mums amongst us, who may never have had a job or career before and now feel ready to take on a new challenge, and that can be a scary prospect initially.
It’s also a very exciting time!
Nerves and excitement are much they same, those fluttering butterflies you feel in your stomach when you fall in love, feel the same as those you feel when going for a job interview. So, let’s not confuse our excitement for the journey ahead, as all bad.
IT’S AN INSIDE JOB!
Still feeling like a bag of nerves contemplating job interviews?
Well time to turn your anxiety and fear into courageous confidence instead!
Read on to discover how, when it comes to job interviews, getting hired is an ‘inside job’ that can work for you.
YOU’RE WORTH MORE
When clients who are looking to find a new vocation
come to me for coaching, they nearly all have one thing in common; they never
set their sights high enough.
When looking for employment people tend to stay within, financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth, overlooking those positions offering higher salaries. Don’t just limit your search to a job that is in your current earning bracket, when you realise how precious your time and skills are to others, your earning potential increases.
However, you must want the career not just the
money it brings, if your motivation is job satisfaction then you’re more likely
to get the job you want, and to do it well. Know what you want from an
occupation and what you have to offer. Think of things you enjoy doing, past,
present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.
Interviewers can smell the difference between
candidates desperately needing a job, and enthusiastic people who passionately
want the job. So, take a deep breath and relax!
BE SELF- AWARE
That is why being self- aware of your own motives
can help in getting hired or not, it can also help in coming across as
Interviewers want to see how quick you can think on
your feet and how self- aware you are. It’s not what you say that counts, but
how you respond to a question, so be conscious of your strong and weak points
in advance, because they will ask you about them. Ideally think of a weakness
beforehand that you can turn into a positive, for e.g. you could say:
‘In the past I always had to work late, but now I’ve learnt how to prioritise my time more effectively.’
This will say a lot more about your strengths than your weaknesses, and will help you to stay present in the moment at all times. If you’ve planned well, then there will be no need for you to think of an answer, while the question is still being asked.
In the words of Benjamin Franklin:
‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’
So be prepared and research the company and role,
the more information you have the better. Also look at what similar posts and
other companies have to offer, this is useful to know, especially if you get
offered the position.
Beforehand visualize the interview in every detail as you would like it to be, and focus only on what you want to achieve. Arm yourself with an abundance of your strengths, so you will be ready whenever an opportunity arises to tailor your skills to the job role.
Buying a new suit or getting your hair cut will also prepare you and boost your confidence, and will be one less thing to worry about. Moreover, when you are looking good, your confidence will shine through, and building rapport will be easier.
Remember you are both there for the same reason- to
fill the vacancy, so relax and show the real you. If you are feeling anxious
and nervous take some deep belly breaths, and say to yourself ten times ‘I am
the right person for this job’
Subtly match the interviewer’s body posture, tone and speed of speech, this way you will build rapport a lot quicker. And once that connection has been made, you will feel more comfortable and able to concentrate on the conversation.
A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the job
though, it’s not always the best candidate that gets the position; it’s who the
interviewer feels are the best interviewee on the day.
Afterwards ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time. Remember to keep things in perspective, it’s not a life or death situation, no matter how important it may feel to you at the time. View it as practice and experience, leading up to the real thing- your dream job.
But we also create our own luck in life and this is a valuable lesson to pass onto our children.
Last Friday, I won a once in a lifetime Writing Competition with Notebook Publishing https://www.notebookpublishing.co.uk/the-notebook-family/ in their #IndieApril competition. The prize was a premium, very exclusive publication solution, meaning my book would be professionally designed and published, and made available across the world!
It was you could
say; lucky I was chosen?
Only, I don’t believe
in luck. I was poised and prepared already. Now I never in my wildest dreams
imagined I would actually win, because, not believing in luck, I knew there was
an element of chance, that I would be picked. But I had been chosen from the
near hundred different entries because, I had practised what I call ‘The Four P’S
in a Pod’
To explain what I
mean by this, let me share with you a true story.
PATIENCE BRINGS GOOD
One day, when my daughter was younger, she was having a particularly successful day. Not only had she received a Certificate and a sticker for being ‘Star Pupil of the Week’ at School, (meaning she had the privilege of bringing the Class Teddy home for the weekend) but she also won some stationary in the School Prize Draw.
Later that afternoon, she then went on to
receive her next level, Gymnastics Badge and Certificate at the Leisure Centre.
All in all, she was having a really good,
Then on the way home from Gymnastics she said
‘Mum, I was losing at everything and not doing
so well for a couple of weeks, but now I’m doing good at everything, all in one
I explained to her, that it did indeed seem to
be happening all in one day, but really, when she felt as though she was not
doing so well, and ‘Losing at everything’ She was in fact, doing better than
Taking those necessary steps on all those days leading up to today, and not giving up, even when it looked like she was losing, had led her to successfully winning so much today, through her practise, patience and persistence.
If she had lost her patience and quit
Gymnastics, when she wasn’t doing so good, or gave up trying so hard at School,
when she felt like she was losing, then she would never have succeeded in
Understanding the concept of the four P’s and
how they had worked for her, helped her to realise that, even though it looks
as if she’s not doing well at times, or doing really well at other times, it’s
all in fact, a result of her succeeding.
It was clear for her to see that, it was her
patience, practise, persistence and positivity in the past, that had created
her successful day, not just a lucky day.
This realisation and knowing how important these
Four P’S are, in succeeding to learn, will help our children to persist in
their learning endeavours. Whatever they maybe?
THE 4 P’S IN A POD –
POSITIVITY, PRACTICE, PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE
It’s important our children know that, practise is key to acquiring new skills and learning, not just their ability, socioeconomic background or luck.
They need to understand that, it’s those who keep trying that are the most successful in their endeavours, not just the gifted or fortunate.
Whether it’s learning to tie their
shoe laces or becoming a world class chess champion, in any endeavour, no
matter how difficult a task may seem, following the four P’s creates results.
When it comes to learning anything,
these are like four magic peas in a pod. When these -four -combine, there’s no
such thing as failure, and success is just part and parcel of the process!
It’s those everyday acts
of love, such as, cooking tea and chatting about their day, that strengthens
the bond we share with our children.
Expressing our love a
little longer than expected reinforces our love.
Next time try hugging
your child a couple of minutes longer than usual
and feel the love transmitted back and forth. That’s
our bonds strengthening and reconnecting us to one another.
Sometimes, stuff happens
in life and we may find ourselves parted from our children, whether through
work, divorce, illness or whatever else.
In those circumstances it’s vital we look for ways to get back together, as soon as possible and reconnect, repairing any bonds.
If not, our children
could look elsewhere for comfort and support and may turn to the wrong people
or past times in our absence.
As parents, we sometimes
worry that we won’t get parenting right. Believing that someone else such as a
partner, grandparent, aunty, foster carer, child-minder, nursery worker or
teacher will do a better job of loving or raising our children the right way.
The truth is, no one
could ever do a better job than you can, at loving your child.
It’s not what happens in
life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.
disagreements are part and parcel of parenting, which we can’t eliminate, but
we can learn how to deal with and overcome them.
Offering a reassuring
hug, kiss or smile, is all it takes to repair a chink in the chain of love that
Disagreements will always
occur in loving relationships but if we take action to resolve things as soon
as possible, and are willing and able to work through issues with our children,
we strengthen our bonds.
We can’t just set aside
an hour a day as part of the U URSELF routine, to show our children how much we
love them, then forget to maintain that connection for the other twenty-three
hours of the day.
It’s constant connections
that keep bonds
Work, bills and other daily worries won’t disappear. They will always be there demanding our attention, but without time and energy, those loving bonds could gradually start to dissolve over time. The good news is, bonds are harder to make than they are to break, and fortunately being related instantly bonds us to our children.
In my experience, dust
never disappears, but our children’s youth does.
There’s always going to
be laundry in the basket, dishes in the sink and dust on the TV.
Quite simply, as long as we are alive it never ends, so we needn’t feel the housework has to be done before we spend time with our children. I know its embarrassing when an unexpected visitor turns up and the house is a mess, but living life is more important than looking good to others. If those visitors are important in our lives, then they won’t mind we prioritise spending time with our children over a tidy house sometimes.
Our children will not always need us like they do now, but the time we spend with them today will make a big difference that will stay with them for a lifetime, unlike that worn-out jumper that always needs washing and ironing.
We can vacuum and polish, until our heart’s content when our children have grown up and flown the nest, admittedly we won’t have as much mess then, but who will we be keeping the house clean and tidy for?
An empty house is just a
house, not a home.
Our homes are our family
space to feel safe, relax and play in. Children need enough space for playing
with their toys and belongings. Sometimes games, puzzles, dolls, and figures need to be left out in order for them to pick up playing where they left off
last. They don’t want a Feng Shuied bedroom, with books and toys neatly stored
away like ornaments just to look at. That’s just a waste of money. Useless,
unused boxes of toys gathering dust, just create
more unnecessary cleaning. Toys that are loved and used often don’t gather
dust, only memories.
Tidying and cleaning is best done little and often each day. The more prepared and on top of things we are, the more time we have to enjoy with our children. Knowing the importance of Us Time with our children, helps us to organize our time more effectively around our children’s needs.
Everything else in our life apart from our children is pointless clutter, even the cleaning.
But when the Sun has his hat on, then
the children want to play!
For many parents of young children,
this means sleepless or late nights, and early mornings.
ITS NOT FAIR
I remember my own two little ones
complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger
And questioning me why they had to go
to bed, while the sun is still shining?
Often using guilt as their preferred
tool of triumph, protesting;
‘I don’t want to go to bed, it’s not
fair, the sun is still out.’
But I was confident that, keeping to
their bedtime routine was good for them. That’s how I managed to remain calm and
stay strong and persevere.
It was hard though, I must admit.
But had I felt guilty and uncertain, I
may have succumbed and given in, allowing them to stay up a little later?
That would have been a BIG mistake!
If we succumb to our childrens guilt
trips, and move the goal posts just once, we can expect our children to make us
move them even further the next time, as they try to find out how far they can
push things in their favour?
Guaranteed, next time, they will use
that as their trump card.
So, prepare yourself for most childrens
favourite phrase, you know, the one that makes most parents cringe in annoyance
at themselves of;
‘It’s not fair, you let me yesterday,
why not today?’
To which, no parent can ever find a
So, we either end up giving into them
once again, creating another unwanted habit, that’ll be hard to break?
Or, we become annoyed and upset with
ourselves, for giving in to them in the first place?
Resulting in a no win for us parents!
REVELLING IN THE RESULTS
That’s why, it’s best to persevere and
stay strong from the outset.
If we can persevere with routines until
we get the results we want, then life will become much easier for ourselves, as
well as our children.
Other parents and their children, (such
as those playing outside at bedtime) may take a different approach?
And that’s fine for them.
After all, they are the ones who will
be responsible for their own childrens health and well -being and managing
their own childrens behaviour.
But you will be responsible for your
children, no one else’s.
Focusing on the most beneficial, proactive
approach, that’s suitable for you and your child is always best.
This I may add, is not the easiest
approach initially. But I promise, long term you’ll be revelling in the
KEEP IT POSITIVE
It’s a good idea to keep a good
balance between, the positive reasons for following the routine, and the
negative reasons for not. This means, if our children refuse to go to bed, we
can point out the positive reasons why they should, and highlight the negatives
of staying awake.
A typical example could sound something like this;
‘Go to sleep now Sam or else you will
be too tired to play with your friends at nursery tomorrow, and that won’t be
any fun. And don’t forget that you’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you
energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame when you go to the park with Granddad
in the afternoon too! But you won’t be able to if you are too tired. And I know
you are really excited to do all that so, the sooner you go to sleep, the
quicker tomorrow will come, and you can show him how high you can climb.’
Always try to end on a positive.
This may seem like a long -winded way
‘Go to sleep!’
But it’s the quickest and most
effective way in the long run.
Highlighting the positives and negatives, encourages our children to want to follow routines, a lot more than just telling them to comply or else.
Providing an explanation helps them to
know, exactly why it benefits them and why we want them to go to sleep?
Routines then make sense.
And when they make sense to our
children, the sun may have his hat on, but our children will try to sleep