Half term already? Feels like they’ve only been back to school five minutes!!!
As most of us in the UK are experiencing local lockdown many mums are feeling the anxiety of being stuck at home with the kids again. How are we going to keep them entertained, happy and under control?
Well the good news is we don’t have to control them at all.
In fact, 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 thatour 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.
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 happened.
Becoming vegetarian is something I’ve thought deeply about recently. When coaching clients, removing meat from ones diet and eating more fruit and veg is something I always promote for health, weight loss and longevity. But one question I was recently asked by a soon to be mum was –
‘Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?’
So to answer this question is Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory. Warning – there’s mouth watering food pics from Stem + Glory throughout this post!
Veganism on its own tends to attract advice and comment from family, friends and so called ‘experts’, albeit largely well-meaning. It’s interesting that when you throw vegan pregnancy into the mix, and suddenly it becomes about moral choices. Veganism is ok it seems when it’s our own choice, but can be questioned when we are dealing with an unborn child. The idea that we are omnivorous and therefore a vegan diet cannot be safe in pregnancy is a fairly widely held view.
This is a view that I, and many others, wholeheartedly disagree with. My own experience with being vegan during pregnancy is that it was completely normal. I was almost 40 when I became pregnant with my first daughter. I was very fit and healthy. My diet at that time consisted of mainly vegetables, small amounts of (mainly) wholegrains, lots of tofu, lentils, nuts, seeds and beans, and I continued eating in exactly the same way throughout my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, no deficiencies and delivered both my children safely at home. I said to myself when I first became pregnant that if I craved something in pregnancy, then I would eat it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any cravings.
When writing this article I started wondering if my experience was an isolated one, or if in fact many vegan women experience completely problem-free pregnancies. I spoke to seven women who had been vegan through pregnancy (sometimes multiple pregnancies), and here is what they told me:
Can you get the right nutrition?
All of the vegan women I spoke to were very well researched on the subject of vegan nutrition. They were all aware of the need to increase protein intake in pregnancy by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention to eating balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein rich foods such as tofu, with many preferring natural, pulses, grains and vegetables. One of the women had a pre-existing iron deficiency which was managed through pregnancy, but none of the others developed an iron deficiency. One of the women not taking supplements increased her iron levels during pregnancy.
It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With regard to vegan pregnancy it’s also recommended to take B12 and vitamin D. For both pregnancies, I did take a pregnancy multivitamin, and the recommended folic acid. Half of the women I spoke to did take supplements, but half did not, only taking the recommended folic acid.
Angie, who was pregnant twice 33 and 40 years ago, and has raised four vegan children, says she “just ate sensibly, mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan for 13 years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so assumed all was ok.”
This was echoed by Lee who has been through two pregnancies; “Didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues.”
Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet. Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions. I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.”
Emma, who had been vegan for five years and continued to be vegan throughout her entire pregnancy said: “My iron levels were tested as standard and I was told the results were fantastic (without supplementation). I only supplemented folic acid, an algal oil omega 3, spirulina (for B12) and a probiotic, all of which would be useful to supplement in any pregnancy, whatever the diet. The omega 3 was a ‘top up’ since I was already consuming foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds etc. Throughout my pregnancy I ensured I was receiving the correct nutrition in the same way anybody would, I consumed a healthy diet. I don’t like the way people like to make out that vegans are thinking at every meal about where they are going to get certain nutrients from, it’s nonsense, no one does that.”
Neither myself nor any of the women I spoke to reported any nutritional issues during their pregnancies.
What are good vegan foods in pregnancy?
The women I spoke to also all followed a wholefood natural diet during pregnancy. None experienced cravings! Two of the seven experienced severe morning sickness and lived on toast for the first trimester. Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the second trimester which they managed successfully on a wholefood vegan diet.
Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as ‘go to’ meals. Often mentioned were Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, lots of fresh organic veg, nuts, miso soup, peppermint tea and ginger.
Helen opted for bland but healthy: “When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else. Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things. I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron. I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice. When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.”
For Holly who was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester, nut butters were a life saver due to their high fat/protein and low carb content.
Danielle developed cholestasis in her second trimester which meant she could only eat low fat foods “so the vegan diet was great for this”.
Tracey who had severe morning sickness treated it with “lots of miso soup, peppermint tea, fennel seeds & crystallised ginger”.
Atma was vegetarian when she became pregnant, but took the decision to go vegan. “Now I was carrying my own child it brought the ethics of the dairy trade to the forefront of my mind, I was unable to ignore it any more” Atma had previously studied macrobiotics, and when diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester was able to control the diabetes by applying macrobiotic principles. Not only did her bloods stabilise, but she felt happier, healthier and more clear headed than ever before.
Do pregnant vegans feel healthy?
They do! None of the women I spoke to had any issues with energy levels, and outside of the complications already mentioned, without exception all the women felt healthy during pregnancy. They felt the gestational diabetes was easier to manage on a vegan diet.
Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever: “I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”
Danielle: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”. I echo this and was practising and teaching ashtanga yoga until days before I had my first child, and full of energy throughout both pregnancies.
What do the health professionals think?
Now this really did give me a pleasant surprise. Every single one of the women I spoke to remarked on how helpful and understanding their health care team were of their vegan diet. Not one of them, including those with gestational diabetes, was advised to eat animal products.
Helen’s experience was consistently positive: “Two health professionals guessed I was vegan and were highly supportive. My first midwife appointment went something like this: ‘Have you read the list of things you need to stop?’ ‘Yes. I don’t smoke or drink or eat those things anyway.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, I won’t need to persuade you to eat more fruit and vegetables.’ The second was a health visitor at my child’s one-year review. The conversation went something like this: ‘What is your child’s favourite food?’ ‘Tofu.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Please tell me which cheese to buy. What is the best milk? Where do you eat out?’
Emma: “I didn’t tell the midwives that I was vegan because I expected a negative response that I didn’t want to have to deal with at that time. However, in hospital after the birth the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food.”
Says Che; “in my first pregnancy one of my Midwives was vegan herself and brought vegan biscuits to the antenatal classes. Second time the midwife was very supportive and unphased by the veganism. If anything, my GP and Midwives said ‘well, you don’t eat any of the stuff you have to avoid anyway so that’s good’.”
Two out of the seven women I spoke to however remarked on how terrible the vegan options were whilst they were in hospital!
So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that we need animal products put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.
Thank you for contributing this very interesting piece Louise.
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk Lets hope these restaurants find their way to Wales, the food looks amazing.
If you enjoyed this blog post or any of our other posts this year then- please, please nominate us in the – Online Influence Awards 2020 in the parenting category you’ve got until Friday Night 9/10/2020 to enter here below-
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I love the 2nd part of this home-schooling, success story of how stepmum Amy, inspired 7-year-old Archie to become a mini entrepreneur. Last week we chatted to little Archie about his experience of home-schooling during lockdown, this week we get a grown-ups perspective.
PART 2-AMY’S STORY
It began as part of a home-schooling project. Amy Frost bought a few chickens for her stepson Archie. The aim was to teach seven-year-old Archie about animal welfare and husbandry, as well as where food comes from.
Whereas some families found children resistant to home-schooling, this project turned out to be perfect for Archie. He threw himself into looking after the chickens and was soon collecting far more eggs than the family could eat. So, a business was born selling eggs and his lessons solidified about the importance of local food. He even set up a website up, running, a two-week waiting list and orders started pouring in.
“I needed to find a new way to get Archie excited about maths whilst also helping him understand how it could be transferred to real life. Archie loved the chickens we had recently introduced to our home, so we decided to run a home-schooling project about the hens. For example, we wanted to teach him what they need to survive, how many eggs they can produce in a year, why it’s important to care for the chickens with kindness and love, and the difference between ‘free range’ and battery hens. I felt there was an enormous amount of education surrounding just this one project.” explains Amy.
What’s been wonderful about sourcing the local produce is meeting new people, and how enthusiastic and helpful they have been about helping us to educate Archie about how they grow, produce, and make the food. Many have been kind enough to show him around and demonstrate how they work. We hope to bring that education to all our customers in the future.”
“Many locals couldn’t get a delivery at the height of lockdown and were left relying on neighbours to do their shopping, so although not financially viable at the start, we made a conscious decision to deliver to a wider area so that people were not left without food. If they asked, we delivered, even if it was outside ‘our area’.” explains Mark.
“We have been overwhelmed with support from the community – from suppliers, customers and even other local businesses. We have customers sharing our website with friends and neighbours and buying produce as gifts, we have suppliers who have sadly lost so much of their catering trade during Covid and are open to working with start-ups like us, and then we have other local founders who are sharing their equipment to help us grow.
After hearing Archie’s story we were curious to find out more, so here’s what Amy had to say to the questions I asked her recently.
EMMA) What was your initial thoughts on home schooling?
AMY) We were excited about the opportunity to do home-schooling. Although it seemed daunting at first, Mark and I felt we had an opportunity to really get involved with Archie’s learning. It was clear when home-schooling began that we had never really fully known what Archie was learning at school. For example, we had always been told the subject matter, but never the tasks, which made helping and supporting Archie with homework relatively difficult. So as soon as the home-learning tasks began being sent through, we were thrilled to finally be able to understand what he was learning at school and we felt much more informed to be able to support him at home.
EMMA) Where did you get the idea to buy chickens to help Archie and what did you initially set out to teach him?
AMY) Our decision was based around taking him out of the ‘classroom’ environment of the kitchen table, and creating projects that were more hands on and lifestyle based. Archie is great with his school work but his focus became all about sport and he was starting to disengage with the daily subjects of maths and literacy, so we felt that doing something totally different like learning how to look after the chickens would teach him animal husbandry, along with using the eggs to learn his multiplication, adding and subtracting. We had already tried to incorporate sports with his maths learning, such as ‘Maths Tennis’ where we would shout out the times table for every ball we hit, and he learnt his 3’s and 4’s doing this, but as with anything when teaching children, we needed to keep it fun and different.
Our little Chicken Care project developed into a wider range of education that has now taught Archie so much from a ‘school’ sense but has also developed his confidence massively. For the first time he stood in front of 8 children, whom he didn’t know, and led a talk on looking after his animals. This was all through choice, he wanted to explain to them why looking after animals is important. Prior to Archie starting this project he wouldn’t have felt confident doing that.
EMMA) That’s amazing, children feel more self-confident speaking about something they feel passionate about. Do you think schools should offer this more hands on, real life approach to learning, as opposed to sitting in classrooms being taught from text books or media?
AMY) I absolutely believe in children being given the opportunity to have experiences which aid their development. Taking Archie to a local lettuce supplier where he can see, feel and smell the lettuces, speaking to the farmers who educate him on how the food is grown and what happens afterwards, and then in turn completing a project about his experiences which he shows to his family and friends, all supported his memory of the education and ignited a passion inside of him. Maybe it was more fun because it wasn’t the norm, but by using all his senses, experiencing rather than just reading, he took more onboard, listened and learned.
I have worked with many young adults who have been afforded the opportunities to experience working in businesses and on farms for therapy and counselling, but it seems we are not teaching young people life skills to really support them in their adult life. Nor are we giving children the opportunity to have experiences which can teach them, in the early years, important facts which will help them make their own choices as they grow. For example, we have used Archie’s Produce to teach Archie nutritional benefits of food, what is healthy and what is not, what he can feed his chickens and what is bad for them, in the hope that he can make informed decisions based on his own knowledge rather than being told what not to do.
EMMA)I absolutely love that, I even write in my book-The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child- (CHAPTER 9 – FOOD- MAKING A MEAL OF MEALTIMES) about the fact many children these days think that their food originates from a supermarket and about the benefits of children being involved in growing their own food and learning about nutrition. And I also agree that children need these therapeutic experiences too, to help them learn in new, more relaxing and enjoyable ways. Some children are not academic but hands on learning can help us overcome so many barriers to our children’s success.
AMY) Emotionally these experiences have taught so much, including confidence, empathy, care and to think about subjects, which prior to this, he had not considered. We must bear in mind that Archie is only 7, nearly 8, so the level to which he is learning now is very different to a teenager, however I strongly believe that there is a huge advantage to experiencing learning in a varied environment to keep children engaged and initiate alternative and question-based thinking. It’s certainly worked for Archie.
EMMA) What advice can you share with other parents who are home-schooling to help make the home-schooling experience feel more creative, fun and enjoyable?
AMY) Oh Goodness I’m not sure I’m qualified to offer advice! Many of our friends put an immense amount of pressure on themselves and their children to complete all the tasks set by the school and to keep their children up to a ‘level’. At one point I also felt that pressure and worried that by doing home-schooling slightly differently, were we letting Archie down. All I knew was that I wanted Archie to have fun, after all, school is supposed to be fun! However, we’re not school, so we broke the rules a little:
We played music whilst we drew pictures and made plans, we played the bongo’s and danced when doing music practise, we had reading practise when researching types of food chickens can’t eat, for the most part, learning together and not putting a time limit on tasks really helped. We had regular snack and treat breaks, we added in some enjoyable tasks such as bike riding and football as part of the project. So, once we relaxed about the administrative tasks and took out the pressure of having to learn, or write, or read, those three factors happened naturally.
EMMA) Wow I love this approach so much, again it’s something I’ve covered in my book mentioned above (in chapters 10 – LEARNING FUN FOR EVERYONE and 11 – THE SEVEN STEPS TO SUCCESS.)
Do you feel home-schooling has brought you and Archie closer together?
AMY) Yes absolutely. I’m really lucky that we have such a wonderful relationship, but without a doubt having the opportunity to be able to home-school has enabled us to learn so much more about each other. It has also allowed us to be creative and share new experiences together.
EMMA) It would seem lockdown has had hidden blessings for many of us regarding growth, development and contributions to society, what impact has that had on you all?
AMY) The growth of Archie’s Produce has really opened up a series of conversations from where our food comes from and healthy eating, to the way we school our children and educate each other. Little did we know when we started this project how incredible the impact would be and we are extremely grateful to be able to have a little input into hopefully some major future shaping. We genuinely are a lockdown business and were born in a time when most of our suppliers had lost over 90% of their customer base overnight. The catering sector had closed, the only avenue left for them was retail and most local shops were unable to open. So, we felt a huge moral obligation to both our customers, who couldn’t leave the house to get to the shops, or shops were empty, and suppliers who had no outlet to sell their products. The support of the local community is why so many local businesses have survived, and why customers could eat, so as we are now coming out of lockdown, and trades and businesses are re-opening, it is even more imperative that we continue to support the local businesses, producers and farmers, for they are the ones that work tirelessly to save us when crisis hit, and they more than deserve our continued support.
EMMA) Amazing, well thank you so much Amy for sharing with us your experience of home-schooling. I think there’s lots of great nuggets of advice and insight there to help us all be more proactive as parents.
If you’re a parent who would like to know more about proactive parenting or who enjoys blog interviews, you maybe interested in an interview that I had this week with – The Shelf Life Book Review
Now children are returning to school, there’s a sigh of relief in the air for some that home-schooling’s over- Hooray! 🙂
But for others, it’s been a real opportunity in many ways.
I spoke to one Mum, Amy and her step son 7-year-old little Archie, about their experience of home-schooling during lock down. This week’s blog is part one of that interview. What an inspiring story from little Archie’s perspective.
PART 1- ARCHIE’S STORY
Here’s how 7-year-old Archie went from home schooling, to pint sized entrepreneur.
The 2020 lockdown changed most people’s lives in one way or another but one seven-year-old went from home-schooled little boy to pint-sized entrepreneur over the course of a few months. And, for Archie, the chicken did come first!
It began as part of a home-schooling project. Amy Frost bought a few chickens for her stepson Archie. The aim was to teach seven-year-old Archie about animal welfare and husbandry, as well as where food comes from.
Whereas some families found children resistant to home-schooling, this project turned out to be perfect for Archie. He threw himself into looking after the chickens and was soon collecting far more eggs than the family could eat. So, his entrepreneurial journey began as he decided to sell them locally. With the country in lockdown, eggs were difficult to get, and very soon Archie had a waiting list of 30 people wanting his eggs.
Next, he did his maths, and persuaded Amy to buy 6 more chickens. Still he struggled to keep up with demand, and then customers started asking if he sold other local produce too!
Rather than sticking just to eggs, Archie was inspired to expand his venture and look around for more local produce to sell. Together he and dad, Mark, and stepmum, Amy sourced a variety of local products, starting with Alderholt Flour – straight from the local historic Mill. And Archie’s Produce was born.
Having learnt his lessons well about the importance of local food, Archie was keen to get his produce from local producers only, and that gave the business the local edge it needed to succeed. Within a few days the young man had a website up, running, a two-week waiting list and orders started pouring in.
“It was Archie who suggested we try to find other families who keep chickens and see if we could buy from them to fulfil the customers!’
Here’s what else he had to say when I recently interviewed him.
HERE’S WHAT LITTLE ARCHIE HAD TO SAY TO SOME OF THE RATHER GROWN-UP QUESTIONS I ASKED HIM.
EMMA) What did you first think about home-schooling?
ARCHIE) It was fun and I got to play. My favourite subject was P.E because I played lots of football. Then ‘Tennis Maths’ because it was outside and I like Tennis. I like writing poems so we made up songs that were funny. It was fun. Then I learnt about the Hens and I could do lots of arts and crafts making boxes for them and stamping the egg cartons!
EMMA) That sounds like lots of fun, not (school) work at all! When did you realize that you were onto a good business venture and how did you persuade your parents to buy more chickens and expand the business to other produce, such as flour?
ARCHIE) When I had run out of eggs to sell, but lots of people still wanted eggs, I needed more hens and so daddy bought 6 more, but that wasn’t enough. Then I said we should find someone who also has chickens, buy their eggs and give them to our customers. Customers asked for extra food like flour. I was happy adding things to the shop because then we can deliver the food they can’t get.
EMMA) So entrepreneurial yet considerate at the same time. How many different types of produce do you supply now and are you looking to add any more to your list?
ARCHIE) I want to be the biggest shop and sell everything! I have lots of different food; salad, meat and vegetables to New Forest Shortbread and Fordingbridge Fudge. The cows down the road make the best milk and have won awards! They are the best!
This week we added the children’s milkshakes from their milk called Meggy Moos. Named after the little girl called Meghan. I want to keep adding different food so everyone can buy something they like.
EMMA) Wow that’s great ambition you have Archie, I hope you always think big! And I’m sure you’ll have something for everyone, that fudge and shortbread sounds divine. Why do you feel its important today to support local producers and source locally grown food?
ARCHIE) All the people who make the food have families and work very hard making the food.
EMMA) That’s so very true. You’re wise and have a lot of understanding and gratitude for your age Archie. I’ve always wanted to have hens and produce my own eggs, what advice can you give someone like me that’s never done it before?
ARCHIE) The girls are friendly and love cuddles. They must have lots of water and special food called Pellets. They need to eat Grit so the shells are hard and they like to be free, not in cages, but sometimes they dig holes in the grass because they like ‘mud baths’ so Daddy has to fill them in with other grass.
EMMA) Aww cuddles… I love the image that just conjured up in my mind of me cuddling hens and the thought of them roaming freely. You give us a real sense of how wonderful and so alive these hens are, not just there to fulfil a purpose for us humans but to live a purpose that’s worthwhile to them too. Can you explain to readers what the difference is between ‘free range’ and battery hens?
ARCHIE) Chickens like mine that live free outside and can run around are ‘free range’. Some chickens are stuck in a small house and never get out, they have no feathers and are very sad, they are ‘battery hens’
EMMA) That’s very sad ☹ I hope you sharing your knowledge with us today will encourage more of us to opt for the free range variety in future. How can we find out more about your produce and where you deliver to?
ARCHIE) I’m not allowed to deliver because of Covid, so Amy delivers for me all around Dorset, Hampshire and parts of Wiltshire. You can see everything in shop on my website www.archiesproduce.com
EMMA) I do hope someday delivery will be extended to Wales too? 😉Do you have an entrepreneurial role model you aspire to be like?
ARCHIE) Not really, I want to be a footballer like Ronaldo.
EMMA) Well that’s very possible Archie, I’m sure whatever you put your mind to you will achieve. What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt from this home-schooling business venture?
ARCHIE) To look after things and to help people makes you feel good.
EMMA) Two wonderful lessons that prove that, home schooling can teach our children some of the most important lessons in life. Can’t wait for part 2 next week when, I chat to Amy, Archie’s stepmum and get her thoughts on home-schooling.
Do you have a home-schooling success or horror story or do you have a parenting in lock down experience you’d like to share with other parents?
So, the day has nearly or finally arrived for our beloved little ones to return to school. Yippee!!! I can see all the mums fist pumping the air and doing a happy dance around an empty house right now 😊
I’m sure many children are looking forward to going back and catching up with their friends again. But equally there will be some apprehension for most. Here’s a few tips to boost our kids’ confidence and tackle their anxiety about returning to school during the pandemic.
ADDRESS OUR OWN ANXIETIES
Children pick up on parent and carers fears and anxieties, so if we are worried, they’ll think there’s something to be afraid of and that they too should be scared.
PAINT A POSITIVE PICTURE
Help them view returning to school optimistically by telling them about the fun things they will get up to, such as painting, play dough, and reuniting with friends. And answer any questions they’ve got to help them feel prepared.
If they can use their vivid imaginations to visualise going back to school positively, they’ll be more inclined to experience that on the actual day. This focuses their attention on what they want, instead of what they don’t want. Getting them to imagine waking up to their favourite breakfast and getting ready in their new school uniform, with their new shoes, lunch box, backpack and pencil case, builds anticipation and excitement, while increasing their confidence and motivation.
RE-ESTABLISH ROUTINE WITH WARNINGS AND REMINDERS
Routines help children to feel relaxed and confident when they’re given notice and know what to expect, when and why? Offer plenty of warnings and reminders fifteen to ten minutes beforehand, such as at meal and bedtimes, to mentally and physically prepare them.
Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. Set a regular bedtime time and routine for a good night sleep, such as, 7pm -bath, brush teeth, bedtime story. Keep to this even at the weekend.
Exercise is important to childrens emotional as well as physical wellbeing. Children who exercise learn and concentrate better at school, improve their memory and release endorphins, reducing or preventing depression or anxiety. Wean them off the screen using the ‘Bursts of Fitness 15 Minute Rule’ For every fifteen minutes of sedentary play, i.e. Watching TV, they then have to take a break to run up and down the stairs/garden/hallway or wherever is suitable and convenient, fifteen times, before they resume watching TV for another fifteen minutes. Repeated every fifteen minutes.
3 HAPPY THINGS
Before bed ask them to think of three thing’s they were happy for in their day, remembering the good parts keeps them grateful and focused on the positives.
THE BOTHER BOX
Prevent worries building up in their head or going unaddressed by creating a ‘Bother Box’. Find an old shoebox and ask your child to decorate it as they choose with paint, crayons, or stickers. Buy a pack of copier paper and whenever they’re bothered by something, encourage them to draw a picture of whatever is bothering them and place it in the box. Then sit down together and go through the concerns in the box. As they get older, they can exchange drawing pictures for writing their worries down on post it notes, or in a journal or diary.
These are positive statements said as if they’re already true, used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, relieve fears and anxiety, and to reaffirm something wanted. If they are nervous about returning to school, affirmations can bring about positive thoughts and feelings.
Ask them to practice saying aloud;
‘I enjoy going to school and playing with all my friends.’
Giving our children tools and techniques such as these, gives them coping mechanisms and preventative tools to manage their thoughts and feelings, before they need them.
Mumatherapy Facebook Friendship Group
As mum’s we also need some support sometimes too, that’s why Happy Childcare has now set up its Facebook Mumatherapy Support Group. It’s a friendship support group for Mum’s that’s intended to be a safe place to air our inner most thoughts and feelings, with like-minded others, in a closed, supportive group. Sharing helpful parenting advice and providing some helpful tools and techniques, to alleviate stress and anxiety and increase confidence and self -esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal is to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It’s also a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable. Please join with an open mind.
We must look after and love ourselves, mistakes, imperfections and all.
If there’s something we don’t love about ourselves, then others may not love that aspect of us either.
Not because it’s not lovable, but because we will transmit the message of how we feel about ourselves to other people that we meet.
Our partners may think we are beautiful, but if we think we are ugly, over time, we will start to dress and look the way we feel.
Self-love shouldn’t be reliant on others loving us though.
We should replace any damaging, empty, unhealthy relationship with another, for a more meaningful, loving relationship with ourselves.
Getting to know who we really are as individuals is self-love. The relationship we have with ourselves influences all the other relationships in our lives, and our love for ourselves is more important than any other love we may, or may not, receive from others.
Fat, thin, rich, poor, happy, or depressed, it makes no odds; you can love yourself regardless of who you think you are, or however your past may have been.
Loving yourself does not need to depend on past or future events or relationships. Anyone can start afresh today and learn to love themselves, no matter what.
It’s the single most loving thing we can do for our children.
We are their greatest asset in life, so we must take good care of our own health and happiness. Should we become ill, we would not be in a position to care for them. Surely If only to keep us in a strong position to take care of our children at all times, that’s all the motivation we need to ensure we love and care for ourselves?
We need to learn to love ourselves the same way we love our children. To help with this, let’s try the following exercise.
Close your eyes for a moment now. Then imagine your child in the future, grown up as a parent themselves with their own child.
How do you see them?
Can you see, hear, or feel them as a kind, caring, gentle, relaxed, patient, and loving parent toward their own child?
Can you hear them enjoying their life, laughing with and loving others?
A responsible adult and parent with honesty and integrity? Healthy, happy calm, relaxed, patient, optimistic, and fulfilled?
Making time for themselves and taking care of how they look, spending money that they have worked for on themselves and others?
In a career they love. Smart, successful, and abundant while being humble, content, and grateful?
Or are they;
Angry, worried, stressed, sad, frustrated, or depressed, struggling to make ends meet and sacrificing their time on the needs of everyone else?
What would you like them to look, sound, and feel like as a parent?
Imagine now that you are their child. What do you want for them as your parent? Love, happiness, abundance, and peace of mind?
Can you feel this overwhelming love, respect, and admiration for them as your parent?
Do you look up to them and aspire to be like them when you grow up?
See them as the parent, putting their arms around you as their child. Listen as they wish you all the good that you have wished for them.
Open your eyes now and be their parent again. The parent your child wants you to be and the parent you wish your child will become in the future.
When we love ourselves the way we love our children, we become a living, loving example. (Or a living example of love.)
When they see us loving and caring for ourselves and addressing our own needs, they reap the benefits of our happiness, and it teaches them how to love and treat themselves.
MUMATHERAPY FACEBOOK GROUP
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve received messages from Mum’s who are feeling overwhelmed with life and motherhood at the moment. Those lucky enough to have partners have shared their feelings only to feel their partners have dismissed them.
When this happens, it can be difficult to confide in anyone else. This can lead to feelings of despair, isolation, loneliness, frustration, anger or jealousy. This can be exasperated by the current world situation where we can no longer just go and seek help in a counsellor or friend easily, face to face. And over the phone or zooming means many mum’s won’t talk about how they are feeling with little ears or partners listening in. So I have been chatting to mum’s about starting a Mumatherapy Facebook group where mum’s can share their thoughts and feelings, real time, and help uplift and empower one another. This can just simply be reading about other people’s experiences, asking questions or joining in to support others. It will be a safe place to air your inner most thoughts and feelings with like-minded others, in a closed supportive group. I plan to share some helpful tools and techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety, and increase confidence and self esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal will be to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It will also be a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable.
If you are interested in joining this free Facebook group please can you comment below or email me email@example.com so I can see the demand for such a group or not.
Lock down has been bitter sweet for many of us. One thing I know a lot of us working parents can relate to is for once- having time.
Time to do what we want such as spending time playing with the kids.
Walking in nature.
Reading, writing, crafting or cooking.
Time to reflect on who we are and what we do and why?
In essence, we’ve had time to play, be creative and indulge in those things normally we have no time to waste doing.
But for some we’ve had to continue to work on the front line and keep our country going, working harder than usual. Whatever situation we found ourselves in during this strange time in our history, one thing is for sure, we’ve all felt a need to embrace some down time more and find ways to occupy ourselves and this is what most of us plan to hold onto leaving lock down when returning to our old lives.
Play is a word usually associated with children.
But the benefits of play are ageless, the only question is, can we remember as grown-ups how to play?
As a child, I had a toy called a ‘Jack in the Box. I loved nothing more than watching as a clown like head popped out to startle me. Despite expecting it, each time, I always felt surprised and delighted. It was simply fun.
Where did that joy of something so simple disappear to?
Where has all the excitement and anticipation in life gone?
Have we grown up and forgotten how to play and have fun for funs sake!
Play encourages laughter, which is well known for its healing and anti-aging properties, a useful side effect for us grownups. And if we enjoy physically active play, it can help keep us fit and healthy. Even non-physical activities release chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, which reduce stress and tension.
That’s why recreation (another grown up word for play) is part of the U URSELF Routine. You can find out more about The U URSELF Routine by taking a look at an interview I had, with the Shelf Life Blog this week where I was asked some really great questions by the lovely Jo.
Or you could win a FREE signed book Giveaway! For The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child (where the routine is covered in detail)
As a thank you to my readers and followers, I’m giving away absolutely free a paperback copy of my book -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95, signed with a special message and sent to the person of your choice, anywhere in the UK, for the first 3 readers who purchase my paperback book- The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting from Amazon UK
Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know;
* How long it took for the book -The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting to arrive, from the day you ordered until the day amazon delivered it to your home?
* That you’ve left a book review for The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting on Amazon UK
* Who you would like me to send -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95 to, including preferred name, special message and full address inc the postcode.
What a great baby shower gift for any new parent or simply a treat for yourself!
Winners will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on the 28/9/2020 Good Luck!
Or you can buy it today from Amazon above or these places below.
Recreation is vital because, when we take parenting too seriously, we miss out and deprive ourselves as much as our children of all the fun in life.
Life is meant to be fun!
If it doesn’t feel that way to you at the moment, then you’re not playing enough.
Indulging in frivolity when we are supposed to be working, however, can have negative connotations. Others may think we are immature or don’t take our work seriously. But if we stressed less and had more fun in work, we’d take fewer sick days off and look forward to going to work each day, resulting in more productivity.
Children instinctively know how to play. They understand the benefits and enjoyment it brings, it’s their main priority in life.
It was once ours too, so why did we stop playing and having fun?
As grown-ups, have we shut that box closed so tightly, that we are now more afraid of what may not pop out, than what will?
We are all capable of having fun, we just have to entertain the idea of opening that box and learning how to play again.
We are all born to be creative and with our own unique talents. And there’s no better time to express them, was there something you once did or would like to do such as; playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, writing, crafts, tennis, martial arts, carpentry, or gardening?
Have fun, and don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been playing this week? Why not share your fun on social media and inspire other grown-ups too!
Lockdown may have kept some of us apart but if you are fortunate to live with people you love, then give them a hug right now (but please, do not hug just yet those who live outside of your home due to Covid-19).
Did you know that a 10 second hug releases oxytocin, increasing your bond with your child and decreasing anxiety?
That’s why this hormone is known as ‘The love’ hormone.
And that’s why, the next time our little ones push our angry buttons, it’s better for everyone to have a hug.
When our children constantly want and nag and fight for our attention, what they’re really craving is that human, loving, connection. A simple kiss, cuddle and a long hug is all it takes to bring us present together, in the moment.
Being a Present Parent means we are not just there physically, but in mind and energy too. We are focused on one another completely. Everything we do for our children is an act of love. Even listening to them chat about their day at school or childcare or reading them a story. Those things all mean more than money or possessions. But we need to be paying attention, or we’ll miss out as much as our children on some (much cherished in years to come) Us Time (you can learn more about Us Time and The U URSELF Routine in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child and on Present Parenting in The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available now from all good book stockists such as, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble.
Love equals Time and Attention, and that’s the most loving investment we can make in our children’s lives. We can always buy more stuff, but we can never buy more time. Once spent, it’s gone forever.
Love in the moment.
This moment is all that counts. And all those loving moments soon add up!
Our childrens unwanted behaviour is not their fault, they’re not being difficult, annoying, ungrateful or selfish, it’s just more loving ‘Us Time’ they’re really seeking.
It’s not how our children behave or the things that happen to us in life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.
Problems and 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 kink in the chain of love that connects us.
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.
I know this can be difficult when they wake us at two am in the morning, we may know that there are no monsters under the bed, but a three-year-old may not.
At those times, particularly when we are tired and angry, we can unintentionally miss the opportunity to give them an explanation, hug or a kiss, and to make them feel better, especially if they are behaving undesirably.
Yet this is when they are crying out for help, and yes, attention.
Ironically, it’s those times when they misbehave and don’t understand their own emotions that, we end up getting upset and angry with them, when all they really want and need is a cuddle.
Each time we find ourselves overreacting, we can stop and try to shift direction, and replace that in the moment reaction with a hug. It means bringing our awareness back to the present moment, and acting from a place of love. Not automatically reacting unconsciously in the heat of them moment, trying to stop our childrens behaviour.
Once upon a time, we were our children’s number one fan, we adored everything they did. Even a poo on the potty was cause for celebration and hugs of proud appreciation, but as they grow, the focus changes.
But is it our children who change, or is it us who change how we view our children?
BONDED BY LOVE
It’s those everyday acts of love such as cooking them 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.
Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.
It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.
Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.
We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.
Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.
Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.
Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.
Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN
Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.
Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer.
Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.
Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?
Or give this super summertime soup a go;
Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)
A knob of butter
A stick blender
1 x large peeled and diced potato
1 x large leek finely chopped
A bunch of watercress
600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)
Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)
A generous grinding of black pepper
A dollop of double cream
Then let the cooking alchemy begin
Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.
Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.
Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.
(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)
Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.
Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.
This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.
So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.
TOTAL SUGARS 0.2
VITAMINS A, C, K
Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.
As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)
includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below
Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂
Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.
Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.
There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.
A good routine as always is key.
Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.
You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.
Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.
As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.
If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.
It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.
Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.
Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.
Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.
For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.
Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)
Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)
As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.
One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.
The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!
GROW YOUR OWN
A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together.
Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.
Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.
Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.
A lot of children today think their food originates from a Supermarket. We can educate them about food and where it comes from when we involve them and grow our own, this encourages healthier eating too. Sowing, planting, picking, preparing, and cooking their own food teaches them the whole food process, from where it comes from to how it ends up on their plate. And provides a sense of achievement and pride, helping them feel connected to the food they eat, as well as encouraging them to experiment with new foods they wouldn’t normally.
To read more about Food and The U URSELF Routine you can take a sneak peek inside The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child below.
Eating high calorific foods, reduced activity levels and increased alcohol consumption were some of the thing’s lockdown comforted us with.
But moving forward it’s time to get out of our comfort zone on the couch and get going again.
With the easing of lockdown many of us moving forward will want to make some changes. Whether its healthier eating, more exercise or reducing our alcohol intake.
NO PLAN IS A PLAN TO FAIL
For positive change to be effective we have to plan ahead.
KEEP A DIARY OR JOURNAL- If you write down your goals in a way that inspires you, you increase your chances of success in achieving your goals by a whopping 30%!
KEEP FOCUSED – If you can measure your progress when working towards your goals, this figure increases to a staggering 60%!!!
SMARTER- As a Coach one way I help clients increase their chances of success in any endeavour is to, make sure my clients create SMARTER Goals.
These are: –
SPECIFIC – YOUR Goal, e.g. to be a certain dress size.
MEASURABLE- Size 10 e.g. is the measurement you want to be.
ACHIEVABLE – Make a meal & exercise plan to achieve your goal e.g. fruit salad for breakfast, soup for lunch, fish & salad for supper- aerobics 3 times a week.
RELEVANT- It must mean something to you, e.g. to look amazing in your bikini.
TIMED- when do you want to see the results, e.g. 6 months from now in time for your holiday in Spain.
ENTICING- How would that impact your life in exciting ways e.g. feel confident to start dating again.
RECORDABLE- Recording and Reviewing your results along your journey will keep you motivated to continue and help you change your plan if somethings not working.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT- So for example if your goal is not to drink alcohol on a weekday, you have to make sure that you have no alcohol in your house to tempt you. If its to eat healthier then a good plan would be to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, so you have a handy snack available when you need it and have fresh wholesome foods to include in your meals.
PREPARE AHEAD- when going to work planning what you’ll have for lunch and taking your own packed lunch will not only save you some pounds money wise but also weight wise if you choose healthy options, so if one of your goals is to lose weight or just be healthy this will help you achieve that goal.
Also, by shopping in advance for groceries (when you are not hungry, I recommend eating something before you do your grocery shopping) that are healthy and batch cooking meals on your day off and freezing them, you ensure that when you get home from work, exhausted and starving, that you’ll have something quick, convenient and healthy to re heat.
My 5 Moving Forward Changes are;
To eat at least 2 servings of fresh fruit a day
Make a third of my diet vegetables
To only drink alcohol at the weekend
To do weight bearing exercise 3 times a week
To stop eating processed meats like ham, bacon, sausages etc…
What’s YOUR 5 Moving Forward Changes?
Now its time for you to break each change down into mini changes and make them SMARTER by answering the following questions.
I will achieve the following (e.g. Lose weight and be a dress size 10) ————————————————————————————————————————————————————
I will achieve this because (I want to look good in my bikini on holiday)————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Here are the things I need to do (my mini goals) in this order to achieve my goal.
First: (e.g. snack on fruit) —————————————————————————–
Secondly(e.g. increase my vegetable intake) : ———————————————————————–
Thirdly (e.g. remove all alcohol from my environment):—————————————————————————
Fourthly (e.g. order some home weight bearing equipment such as handy dumbbells and some resistance bands and make an exercise plan):————————————————————————-
Fifthly (e.g. make a shopping list to include plenty of fresh fruit vegetables and fish and no processed meat):—————————————————————————–
Today I will start by (e.g. looking for healthy vegetable soup recipes on the internet) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
For this I need access to the internet, find some recipes to follow, to buy a hand blender and some ingredients and I will get these from the supermarket and the internet ———————————————————————————-
I will know when I’ve been successful in achieving my mini goal when- (e.g. I find a healthy soup that I enjoy eating and is quick and easy to make.)
I will reward myself for achieving this by – (e.g. buying a new bikini in my goal size 10) ——————————————————————————
The obstacles I may face are (e.g. not finding a recipe I like or can quickly or easily cook)————————————————————————————————————————————————————
To over come this I’m going to- (e.g. try a few different recipes on my day off, when I can take my time and then make a big pot of my preferred soup and freeze for the rest of the week) —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
I will review my progress ( e.g. in 2 weeks’ time on the 15th of July)——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
This is the progress I’ve made (e.g. I’ve lost 4 pound)————————————————————————————————————————–
I will be ready to tackle my next mini goal when (e.g. I have formed the habit of having home made soup for lunch everyday for 2 weeks)———————————————————————————————————
My next mini goal is (e.g. to start weight bearing /resistance exercise/ to join my local gym or buy some resistance weights I can use at home or do push-ups & sit-ups)——————————————————-
And then start the 12- step process above again for measuring that mini goal. Until eventually you will be on the path of achieving all 5 of your Moving Forward Changes.
Don’t dive straight in and try to achieve all 5 Moving Forward Goals at once, start with the easiest one first then, once you feel you are in good stride with that mini goal move onto the next, ideally leaving two weeks between them.
Don’t forget to keep a journal or diary of- your goal, your progress, your setbacks and success!
Let me know your goals moving forward, you can tweet me #My5MovingForward or DM me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. When you share your goals, you make then real and commit so share with your friends and family too
Or if you’d like 1:1 help in achieving your goals email me today email@example.com or take a look at our Mumatherapy page for more information. link here
The easing up of lock down brings with it a mix bag of emotions for all of us, some excitement and relief, others apprehension and tension.
The problem as in everything in life is that we are ruminating on the past or fearful of the future, neither of which exist. We need to bring our attention back onto the here and now. I call this Present Parenting and its something that requires some practice and effort, not because it’s unnatural and we have to learn how to be more present, but because we’ve formed the habit of Auto Pilot Parenting, which is not natural but an unconscious coping mechanism in response to today’s busy world. We just have to remember how to naturally be, which is what we will do through the following exercises.
Think of an activity you would like to try out for this ‘Present Practising Activity’. For me, cooking is a good activity to practise being ‘Present’.
Pick something stimulating or a bit challenging, this will keep you interested and focused on the task at hand for longer.
Choose a time when you are by yourself to start with, it’s easy to get distracted when our children are around.
Now go and do it. If it’s exercise, get up and go for a run, even if it’s just up and down your stairs for five minutes. Try not to think of something that you’ll have to wait to do such as taking up a new hobby like knitting. Of course, this would be a great present practising activity to do but not if you haven’t got any wool or knitting needles as that’ll become your excuse to put this exercise off until they arrive tomorrow. As we know, tomorrow never comes. Whatever you choose, do it now. Not later or tomorrow, this is a Present Practising Activity—the time to do it is now.
As you engage in this activity, stay focused on what you are doing and feeling in each moment. You may hear that annoying little voice in your head telling you, ‘This is stupid, stop wasting time, you’re too busy, there’s lots of more important things you should be doing’. But don’t let it bully you into unconsciousness. Stay present!
When cooking, I get absorbed in what I‘m doing, I need to concentrate to prevent chopping a finger off or burning myself.
I stay engaged by choosing to cook different dishes each time to challenge myself and keep me present, if I wander off mentally, I could ruin my evening meal, so I focus on the task at hand. This way, I experience the different tastes, textures, and smells, and I’m not thinking of anything else except what I’m doing, making it also therapeutic, as any worries are forgotten. Time seems to fly by in this flow state. Then once we practise feeling in the flow in new activities we enjoy, we know we can experience this day to day in general too.
If you can’t think of a specific activity to practise being present in, and don’t like cooking, then try practising while having a bath. Feel the warm water surround you, notice the sparkling bubbles floating on the surface and the scent of the soap. Feel your skin wet and soapy, and take in the full experience of having a bath. Luxuriate in this refreshing experience. How often do you bath without thinking about these things or without really enjoying the experience?
That’s because when bathing, we are usually somewhere else in mind, and instead of relaxing in the present moment and enjoying the pleasurable experience, we take it for granted, and it becomes another Auto Pilot chore.
Anything we do often tends to end up this way. We become desensitised by its familiarity.
To appreciate the little things and stop our minds from wandering off on a rampage of doom and gloom, we just need to stay in the here and now, the only place we can ever really be!
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During the last 9-10 weeks, the focus has been on how families will manage all confined to the home together, mum guilt over working from home and being there but unavailable to our children, home schooling, managing unwanted behaviour and siblings fighting and arguing. Now it seems there’s a concern more on returning to work, sending our children back to school and childcare and re adjusting to some sort of normality that we all lived before lock down.
To address these fears and anxieties I’ve put together a brief video on EFT -Emotional Freedom Technique, known as Tapping. I have to admit, even as a hypnotherapist I was initially sceptical that something so simple like tapping on parts of my body, could be an effective tool for transformation and healing body and mind, and overcoming addictions, fears and phobias. But I was wrong!
Since sharing that video on IG TV and Youtube, I’ve had a few messages asking some good questions, so I’ve written this blog to address those and explain in more detail about what EFT is and how to do it.
How to do it?
Basically, take two fingers your index and middle finger on the hand you use most, I’m right-handed so I’d use my right-hand fingers, then on the opposite hand (my left) tap the fleshy side of your hand where you’d do a karate chop. You don’t want to hurt yourself; you’re not actually fighting you but apply enough pressure so you can feel it. That vibration should shoot some energy down that point, while saying three times this sentence’ –
‘Although I have this fear (or you can say anxiety), I am willing to love, approve and accept of myself anyway.’
Say this out loud, you may feel a little self-conscious, silly or cynical even to begin with but that’s that voice, your ego, trying to stop you, trying to maintain the norm. Don’t listen to that resistance within you telling you you’re fine as you are, you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place if that was true or this was stupid.
How bad do you want to relieve your anxiety?
There’s nine tapping points we are going to tap on, you can watch the video here, https://youtu.be/zLX8YlfJ4QY to see how it’s done. We start with the sentence and tap on our karate chop. If you don’t believe you’ll relieve your fear or anxiety you could say the following sentence;
‘Although I don’t believe I’ll relieve this fear / anxiety I am willing to love, approve and accept myself anyway’
When you say this sentence tap three times on the karate chop with 4 fingers on this point, see the video on where this is and how to do it. It can be hard for many of us to say we love accept or approve of ourselves, so if you can’t bring yourself to say that either yet say-
‘Although I don’t believe I’ll relieve this fear / anxiety, I am okay.’
Then follow with 2 fingers tapping;
Beginning of the eyebrow ‘I can’t get rid of this fear’
Side of the eye- I just can’t do it
Under the eye on the bone ‘this anxiety’
Under the nose – ‘this fear won’t go away’
Chin- ‘no way is this anxiety going to go’
Collarbone where a tie knot would go- ‘’this fear / this anxiety’
Under the arm in line with the nipples- ‘I’ll never be free of this anxiety’
Top of your head using all your fingers in a claw shape- ‘this fear / anxiety’
What can I use it for?
I’ve found Tapping can work for most things. A couple of weeks ago I had a fit of the hiccups, as you’ll more than likely know getting rid of these annoying little beggars is not easy. In the past I’ve tried everything from being shocked, punched, holding my breath, drinking water but nothing ever worked but this time, I decided to tap saying-
That’s all I said while tapping on the 8 points, 3 times each and instantly like magic, they just stopped!
Despite having seen this tapping work for many of my clients in the past for all sorts of different issues, it even amazes me now how something so seemingly simple and quite absurd, can work so effectively well. But no matter how bizarre, I never question anything that works for anyone!
How does it work?
We are all made up of energy, in fact everything is, even that lifeless looking rock on the ground. When our energy becomes unbalanced or disrupted in some way, we have energy blockages. This was first identified by Dr Callahan in 1980 and termed TFT- Thought Field Therapy and later in the 1990s Gary Craig continued Callahan’s work and founded EFT Emotional Freedom Technique.
Emotions are not bad; we need them, they are what lets us know we are alive and helps us to understand how we are feeling. Through tapping we can reconnect to our emotions and restore balance. Usually we adopt habits such as eating or drinking alcohol which is how many of us, I know, have coped with being in lock down. These habits or addictions try to numb and supress those emotions or stress that we find uncomfortable. Tapping brings them to the surface helping to reconnect our mind and body in a healthy way. It brings us present to the problem, this is important and the reason why we will use a negative statement to address the problem, while tapping on certain parts of our body.
COMMON Q & A
Should I just be saying my anxiety or can I say something positive when tapping?’
I said ‘This anxiety’ in my video and in this blog to keep it simple but I usually ask clients to say-
‘This anxiety won’t go or I’ll never get rid of this anxiety’ And variations on the issue, so for weight loss I’d ask them to say-
‘I’ll never reach my dream weight’ ‘I just can’t stop eating crisps’ or whatever cravings they have, etc….
We don’t say positive statements or affirmations as we would in hypnotherapy because we are working on the issue, of approving and accepting ourselves despite our issues. And the subconscious part of our minds can’t reject this, as we are telling the truth, so if you feel anxious and you say – ‘I’m feeling great’ the anxiety will be heightened by your mind telling you that’s not true and so you feel like the tapping doesn’t work. The tapping unblocks the energy that has been caused by the issue, so tapping to unblock the positive doesn’t make sense, that’s why we tap on a negative statement.
Measure your anxiety levels before & after tapping.
I recommend you write down on a scale of 1-10 your level of anxiety before you do the tapping exercise – 10 unbearable -1 feeling no anxiety.
Then do a round of tapping and then rate you level each time. You do initially invoke your anxiety because that’s what you are bringing to the surface. In our everyday lives we try to ignore it, so it manifests in different ways, in EFT we are acknowledging we have it and trying to work through it. 😊
The Enemy Within.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, this is the block we are working on and the block that’s causing your fear or anxiety.
We spend so much of our time and energy disapproving of ourselves and speaking unlovingly towards ourselves, never accepting who we are fully. But if we want to change, we have to do the opposite of what we’ve been doing if that hasn’t been working for us, and if that means trying something new, then so be it!
When we tackle our self-doubt head on with juxtapositions that mix the negative statement with the positive, our sub conscious is not on the alert. We get to sneak in the back door. This way we aren’t lying to ourselves or putting pressure on ourselves.
I’d love to hear how you get on with EFT, so please do get in touch or if you are interested in booking a 1 on 1 Mumatherapy Coaching or Hypnotherapy session with me after lock down, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me on Twitter anytime.
Then you can get a- FREE 35-minute hypnotherapy anxiety relief down load, simply by signing up to our Happy Childcare Newsletter now (you’ll get invited to do so each time you visit our site and we’d love to have you in our club!)
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!