BIRTHDAYS, MEMORIES, MILESTONES, Stay Present

A BIRTHDAY YOU’LL NEVER FORGET

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!

Can see you as the next Simon Cowell!

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!

1st baby tooth to go!

One day, those simple everyday memories, will be where you will linger longingly, wishing you could go back to.  

Making Memories.

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. 

Always smiling.

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! 

Happy Birth- days! 

Stay Present Em x

CHILDMINDING, Powerful Parents, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present

SCARY TIMES MEANS NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS!

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. 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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.

Photo by John Tuesday on Unsplash

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.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Proactive, Stay Present & Stay Powerful

Em x

Thanks for featured image Photo by CDC on Unsplash


Behaviour, Powerful Parents, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present

SIBLING RIVALRY AND THE ART OF INTERVENTION

So, you survived another half term holiday, but secretly are jumping for joy that your little people are back to school or childcare right?

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

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.

At least at work we get a lunch break!

 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

FIGHT 

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.

TOMMY VS JOHNNY

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!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Now, Auto pilot Mummy has reinforced hitting or shouting to resolve conflict.

But Tommy still hasn’t been taught how to share. That was the lesson there that auto pilot Mummy completely missed. She could’ve taught and coached Tommy by explaining that Johnny was a baby, who, like Tommy, doesn’t understand the concept of sharing and that certain toys belong to certain people.

All Tommy knew and was interested in was it was his favourite Teddy not his little brothers, and he wanted it back!

Johnny didn’t want to give it back though, so Tommy would do anything in his power to reclaim his beloved possession. And he did, he hit out. Proactive Mummy would have first made a fuss of baby Johnny who was hurt, not a fuss of toddler Tommy.

PROACTIVE PARENTING

Cue proactive Mummy’s chance to explain and teach Tommy, once baby Johnny had calmed down and was okay.

It’s frightening for a toddler to see how he can actually hurt someone he really loves, and at first glance, to auto pilot Mummy, Tommy’s reaction looks deliberate, as if he wanted to hurt his baby brother. But despite what morally he thought was right, it was his teddy after all, it wasn’t intentional, he hasn’t developed morals, this is something he’ll learn from his parents and being in these uncomfortable situations. The truth of the matter is, he simply couldn’t control his emotions.

Instead of ostracizing Tommy and sending him to the naughty step or giving him a label such as naughty or bad boy, proactive Mummy needs to involve him and show him that she loves him, but his behaviour was not appropriate.

It’s proactive Mummy’s moral duty to make it clear that Tommy must never put his  hands on anyone and to empathize that she  understands he was hurt that Johnny had his favourite teddy, and she knows why he reacted the way he did, but hurting someone else because he feels hurt doesn’t resolve things, it makes it worse. Giving him examples helps him to make connections with how his actions make others feel, for example, explaining to Tommy that what he had done was not acceptable and that baby Johnny now feels hurt like that time when_______, then filling in a blank with a time when Tommy was hurt and upset.

This invokes empathy. He may cry as he realises what he has done was wrong. He’s learnt a powerful emotional lesson here. This is proactive Mummy’s cue to offer a little reassurance, such as a kiss or a hug.

ALL EMOTIONS ARE OKAY

This way, she demonstrates that’s it’s okay to get angry and have these emotions, they are not bad, they are trying to teach us something, and that she accepts that he was angry and that happens sometimes, but there are other ways to release that anger. So next time he feels that way, he can come and talk about his feelings. This helps open up a channel of future communication.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

On the other hand, he may still not see that what he has done was wrong, so, as proactive parents, we have to be on the lookout for any repeat behaviour again so we can reinforce that lesson until he gets it. 

We also need to encourage him to make it up with his baby brother, maybe kiss baby Johnny better to show his affection and forgiveness, which is important. Having a family group hug makes Tommy feel forgiven and included again and Johnny feel better too, and as a parent, peace and love feels restored.

Coaching behaviour shows unconditional love, a naughty step shows our love comes with conditions.

Anything other than unconditional love will feel like hard work because it usually relies on our children meeting our expectations, which is always going to be difficult.

MAKE DAILY INDIVIDUAL US TIME FOR EACH CHILD

It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.

Although generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US Time’ for each individual child by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time.

One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, there will be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’.

Family Us Time is still important, and finding things we all like to do is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and see where everyone’s preferences lie so we can plan to do those things together, alongside individual Us Time.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Proactive, Stay Present & Stay Powerful

Em x

Thanks for featured image Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Behaviour, BELIEFS, Esteem, MEMORIES, Proactive Parenting

STUPID STICKY LABELS

What negative beliefs to you believe about yourself?

Photo by Cheron James on Unsplash

Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.

If not overcome, self-limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success and happiness. Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority figures such as from parents and teachers.

If a child is told that they ‘Will never be any good at_____’ fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their subconscious mind. They then believe them to be true, even if years later they have proved them to be wrong. Often, they will look for ways to prove those authority figures right, albeit subconsciously. Then, when their negative self-beliefs and attitude inevitably causes them to fail, they’ll think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never be any good at it, and look—they were right!’

We need to challenge our children’s self-limiting beliefs and find out where they came from and whether or not the source was correct or reliable? 

Seeking to prove them wrong, rather than right, and reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do. There will always be things they find challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid them or believe they are unachievable, nothing is impossible with the right support and encouragement.

OUT OF DATE INFO

Children under seven are very impressionable, they particularly take in things that upset them or stand out as most significant, especially traumatic events. They then sort and store these experiences in their subconscious mind for future reference, which then becomes available to assist them in the future.

Photo by 🇸🇮 Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

This is helpful if the information is right or is intended to keep them safe in some way, but sometimes it can be wrong, misguided, and outdated. Information received while young is based on a young child’s perspective and may not be appropriate to them as they get older. Even when they have grown up and outgrown it, they may still be acting, thinking, or feeling based on those past experiences.

‘Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.’

This causes them to create fears and restrictions on themselves, and if others impose limiting expectations upon them, they add to a child’s own self-limiting beliefs, especially if they believe them or they remember situations or comments that reinforce them.

Fortunately, with the right encouragement, support, and belief, children can combat and overcome these self-limiting beliefs.

Children believe others over themselves most of the time, so, if they have fallen off a bike many times, their mind will tell them ‘You can’t ride a bike.’

But if we can convince them that they can. With some patience, persistence, and practice, they’ll believe us and start practicing until they eventually learn how to ride that bike. Because we have said and believe they can, they start to believe it themselves.

As Proactive Parents, we need to show them that their limiting beliefs are inaccurate and find evidence to support why they can do something that they believe they can’t.

If they say they are no good at sport, we can remind them of an occasion when they were, such as when they came first in the egg and spoon race. Our job is to question their beliefs and point out how vague they are being, by asking them in a confused tone;

‘Sport? … What sport in particular are you no good at?

 And; ‘What do you mean by no good exactly?’ This will make them think less generally.

If they reply; ‘I mean I’m no good at rugby.’

We could say; ‘Well that’s not all sport, that’s just one activity, but why do you think you are no good at rugby anyway?’

They might reply with; ‘I didn’t score a try last week.’

We could then ask; ‘Did everyone else score one?’

They may respond; ‘No only two people scored a try.’

We could continue; ‘So are none of the others any good at rugby also?’

To which they would have to honestly reply; ‘No some are good.’

STICKY LABELS

Regardless of talent, ability, qualifications, experience, money, or even if they follow ‘The Seven Steps to Success’ which we will reveal in later blog posts, none will make a difference without our children having Self-belief.

If they don’t believe that they can do something, then they won’t be able to do it, even if we are really encouraging and believe in them. Their self-belief influences everything, including their performance throughout school and academic potential.

These self-beliefs often lead to success in areas they feel confident and believe they can do well in, but in those they don’t, they’ll likely avoid or not do so well in.

There will be a variety of subjects in school, some they will not always enjoy, but they will be more likely to persist if they believe they can achieve good results in them, and we can help them build their self-belief by;

  • Believing in their capabilities — If we do, then they will.
  • Giving them responsibilities — Showing them that we believe and trust in them when it comes to important matters and giving them responsibilities makes them more responsible.
  • Helping them — If they are struggling in any subject at school, or any other area of their lives for that matter, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, we can help them overcome these obstacles and succeed by getting them the help, support, and resources they lack or need.
  • Encouraging them to be proactive — Taking action will give them the confidence to believe that they can achieve anything, even if they fail. It’s the fear of not being able to do a thing that stops them from believing they can. They have to gain confidence through achievement, and self-belief through doing and proving to themselves they can.
  • Complimenting them — Pointing out their efforts as much as their achievements and being specific. A general ‘Well done’ is not enough, we need to elaborate. Well done for what exactly? To replicate their success, they need to know exactly what it was they did so well in order for them to apply that to something else in the future.
  • Not over doing it — If we are too general or praise them when it’s not due, then they will not believe our praise to be genuine. Our children’s self-belief comes from the support and encouragement of others, including ourselves, but words of encouragement or trying to boost their ego with praise alone, will not work. They have to believe and feel good about themselves for genuine reasons. No matter how many times we tell them they are the best at something if they know they aren’t, they won’t be fooled. And the more they perceive us to be lying about what they think they can do, the less likely they will be to accept our genuine praise or compliments.

No matter how much praise we give or belief we have in our children, it’s what they believe and achieve, and whether it’s important to them or not, that counts, which is down to their own self-image. We’ll look at self-image in later blog posts too but over the last two weeks I’ve noticed the emails I’ve received from parents have revolved around sibling rivalry and arguments, especially during half term school holidays, so next week we’ll address The Art of Intervention.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x

Thanks for featured image Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Behaviour, Esteem, Proactive Parenting, The U URSELF Routine

THE SELFISH CHILD

As Proactive Parents, we are preparing our children physically, emotionally, and socially for life in the real world without us. This doesn’t just mean when they grow up and leave home, it means when they have to go anywhere or do anything without us, such as starting school and childcare.

The foundations we build to support them now, such as having routines and fostering self-confidence and self-belief within them will be essential. 

Our children are our prize possession, so we have to make them feel like the prize. Their self-esteem will be determined by the respect, admiration, and appreciation they receive.

That’s why we are ultimately aiming for a Selfish child!

This word is not to be misunderstood or taken in a negative, egocentric context though. Here, when referring to making our children more selfish, we mean we are helping them to build more of the five self’s below;

SELF-BELIEF – What our children believe they can do, achieve, or be.

SELF IMAGE – How our children view themselves, for example; how they see their intelligence or physical attractiveness.

SELF RESPECT – How well our children look after and treat themselves generally, including diet and exercise.

SELF CONFIDENCE – How our children act or assert themselves and how sure they are in their own ability.

SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves they think they should or the way they want to be.

These five selves all impact upon one another, but not always. One child may have a good self-image and find themselves attractive, but may not have any confidence in their academic ability. Another may excel at sports but have low self-esteem in every other area of their life, it just depends on what they place value or importance on in their lives.

Children just want to fit in and feel like everyone else. If such a definition as ‘normal’ exists, then that’s how we want to help our children feel.

We can do this by validating at every opportunity that how our children feel is normal and okay, such as, it’s normal to get angry when someone snatches a toy off them. 

This can be difficult, as our first response to our children’s undesirable behaviour is to insist they act or feel a certain way that’s more acceptable. For example, if they get angry and shout or hit out at the injustice they think they’ve received from the other child who snatched a toy off them, our first reaction would be to tell them not to be angry and that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ and usually we insist they say sorry to the other child they have upset, but we can often forget to validate that their feelings of anger were normal under those circumstances. Because they can’t articulate in words to the child who snatched the toy off them how they feel, they get frustrated and angry. Yet most if not all children would feel the same.

Photo by Andre Guerra on Unsplash

The reason we don’t validate their anger is because we don’t like to see our children angry as it can be an unkind, ugly emotion at times, so we try to prevent or stop it, and this serves to make our children feel bad or wrong for feeling angry.

We can only go so far in helping our children though, they play the most important part themselves, so it’s time to step back and allow them to be themselves.

This should come naturally, yet with so much influence and input from others, over time, they can find being themselves is not so good. That’s when they try to change themselves to fit in or to become accepted by others. This can be damaging to their self-esteem and can affect their self-confidence in all areas of their lives, sometimes creating unhealthy habits.

Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

KNOW THYSELF

Our children knowing themselves is essential to their happiness, health, and success. But only they can learn who they really are and discover what they really like, without knowing this, they will be aiming at the wrong goals in life.

Socrates the philosopher once said ‘Know thyself’ but this can be perplexingly difficult for our children at times as they are constantly changing.

Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

We can support them in their uncertainty by helping them form a positive impression of themselves and life in general while they are young. This is important because they carry their beliefs about themselves as a child into adulthood, and those beliefs determine what they do and who they become in the future. Our children will become whoever they believe themselves to be. Yet a large contribution of beliefs and their self-image will be formed from other people’s perspectives.

Unfortunately, other people’s negative opinions about them can stick in their young, impressionable minds, even as adults. These create self- limiting beliefs’ which we will explore in the next blog, that can hold them back if not challenged.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x

Behaviour, Esteem, Learning, Proactive Parenting, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

ENURESIS BEDWETTING

The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’

Photo by Rob Hayman on Unsplash

When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.

Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake though, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. This can be a good motivator for not wetting the bed in the future, being wet, cold, and uncomfortable at night is not a nice feeling.

As long as we don’t get mad or upset with our child, this is how they will learn.

Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

PREPARE IN ADVANCE

We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss, by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.

The actual issue of bedwetting does need exploring, but shouldn’t prevent them from sleeping once their pyjamas and bedding has been changed.

If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.

It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE

If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor.

They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day.

Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all. If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition.

Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?

Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?

Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as, have they been emotional throughout the day because they fell out with their best friend or because dad is working away for the night?

Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

BE PROACTIVE

Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful.

This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too.

We may even already be aware of a possible cause of emotional stress for them such as having a new baby sibling, bereavement, moving to a new house, starting childcare, or a parent leaving home.

All of these things can be stressful for a small child, emotionally challenging, and are common underlying causes of regression.

If stress and anxiety is the culprit, we have to handle the situation just as empathetically and positively as we would a physical medical condition that is also out of their control.

BOOST THEIR SELF-ESTEEM

This means praising them when they call out mid flow in the middle of the night for making good progress by noticing as it is happening, how we react in response will either help or hinder their progress at this point. Getting frustrated and saying things such as ‘why didn’t you get up and go straight to the toilet sooner, or, not again, or, I thought you had grown out of this’ will only damage their self-esteem. This is the next part of the U URSELF Routine that we will explore in the next blog ‘Esteem’

What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children.

We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!

Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash

MOTIVATE TO PROGRESS

What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting.

In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time.

Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development. What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future.

A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pullup, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see.

A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.

GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY

I always find that children who are given responsibility over their own lives, no matter how young, overcome challenges and progress quicker than those whose parents do everything for them and take control. This doesn’t mean not helping or being involved as a parent and leaving them to sort out themselves, but taking a back seat at times. It’s natural to want to love, protect, support, and do everything for them, but this can serve to make them feel as though they are a passenger on their journey of life. Events and experiences are out of their control and influence. There often seems little point in them making much of an effort to try or change.

Helping strip their wet bedding off their bed and putting it in the washing machine with your help, then choosing what fresh bedding goes back on their bed next or what pyjamas to wear all involve them in their own self-care. Instead of feeling low self-esteem at what can be an embarrassing time, they now display self-love and respect. They are helping themselves, and we are allowing them to feel good in a situation that could make them feel bad if handled insensitively.

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

It’s their bedwetting issue to address and solve. This way, they’ll look for solutions rather than feeling helpless and resigned to a life of wet nights, forming a habit that may be difficult to change later on. Now, in no instance are they responsible or to blame for their bedwetting, we are not suggesting that ever, but if anyone has any influence over changing it, they do!

And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower.

Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves. 

They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility.

Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

SEEK THE CAUSE NOT THE SYMPTOM

Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my soon to be published book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting. But let’s just say for now that their bad behaviour isn’t always that bad.

The less of a big issue we can make out of their bed wetting, and the bigger the fuss we can make over a dry bed, the quicker the preferred behaviour will become a habit. We can best help, however, by uncovering the source of their underlying emotional issue or anxiety they are currently experiencing and focusing on that, rather than the presenting symptom of bedwetting. Once that has been addressed, the bed wetting, in time, if not left long enough unaddressed to become a habit, will resolve itself.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x

MEMORIES, MILESTONES, PARENTING

SWEET 16

Well it’s happened the first coming of age milestone, our first-born turns 16!

It’s an emotional day.

We couldn’t have imagined the beautiful person you would become then!

Like all loving parents, our children are our life. Everything we do, we do it for you. But soon you’ll be doing stuff for yourself, now you’ll have your national insurance number you’ll be able to work and legally able to do other things we’d rather you didn’t. But so far parenthood has been a very rewarding journey, full of love and laughter, and we just want you to know Holly how very proud your Dad and I are of you.

Since the day you were born you just love to literally laugh out loud and to make others laugh too!

You had a tough entry into the world, giving me a tough time in the process, but since your initial birthday you have been an easy child ever since, and we want to thank you for giving us the best 16 years of our lives so far.

You’re funny, confident, caring, and full of that zest for life. You are always up to trying new things and giving anything a go, always facing your fears with determination, whilst always being thoughtful and empathetic towards others.

We’re so eternally grateful for everything you have taught us, especially all that’s good about this world.

We can all remember that moment we brought our first-born home from hospital. 

On tonight’s Snow Moon I will reflect on the day you were born. I remember that snowy February day like it was yesterday, my husband Paul putting the car seat down in the middle of the living room and us both staring at our new arrival Holly, for what felt like hours. 

We were just in awe of her. Scared and anxious at the same time. 

All those fears surfaced. 

How would we cope? 

What do we do if she cries? 

How will we know what she needs?  

When?  

And why? 

What if we don’t know how to be good parents? 

Now on her sixteenth birthday, as a Mum, I feel so proud, privileged and happy to have come this far, to have learnt so much but more importantly, to love and feel loved by such a smart, wonderful, funny, kind and crazy daughter. 

The pride and love I feel for her every day are overwhelming. Making that difficult birth and all those doubts and fears pale into insignificance. 

Yes, even the toddler tantrums and teenage angst has been worth every minute.  

So much so, I feel saddened that she is growing up way to fast, and I long for those baby days back. 

Yes, children change your life in many ways, but always for the better.  

It may be hard to imagine now when you’re in the thick of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, but it’s in those ordinary moments together, that one day, you’ll linger with your memories longing to go back.  

Parenting is a very rewarding time and can be lots of fun if we let it. Enjoy and treat every day as a special one, because while your child is young, every day really is special and full of firsts. First words, first steps, first pee on the potty, first day at school, first boyfriend, all of which are magical moments for you and your child to cherish.

Believe me, the time really does go so quickly, one day you are crying into your pillow, begging for some sleep while they are teething, the next you are crying into a tissue as you are waving them off to university!

When your baby becomes one of your best friends!
DAD AND DAUGHTERLY LOVE

One day in the not so distant future, those dreaded night feeds, school runs, class assembly’s, duvet days and trips to the dentist, will become the best moments in our lives.  

Today they are ordinary every day events, although tomorrow they’ll become the most extraordinary, priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time in our lives. Time that all too often we take for granted because we are disillusioned that the work and worries that occupy our mind, are the things that need our attention the most.  

Yet, neither now nor in the future will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do. 

I wish they were both still this age!

Happy Birthday Holly Love Mum & Dad xxx 

Proactive Parenting, Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

SLEEPING PAINS

After environment, other physical factors such as Illness and pain can be a cause of sleep disruptions. If a child has a fever or rash, are severely lethargic or unresponsive, then we can assume they’re ill and need immediate medical attention. Teething or colic pain is not always visible but should subside of its own accord. Not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep, I know, but there are over the counter remedies to help with this period. If constant over a few days, then it may not be teething. You should always contact your GP or out of hours if you are concerned. Even if it turns out to be teething, it’s always best to get it checked, as our children can’t let us know how they are feeling. But we can usually visually tell or sense if our children are responding differently, always follow your gut instinct, you know your child better than anyone else.

If unsure of the severity of their pain, there’s a general test I like to recommend; next time they awake crying at night, let them hop into bed with you. If their pain magically disappears as soon as they jump into bed, it’s not going to be pain keeping them awake.

We can be sure pain is not the cause of their sleeplessness because pain remains, regardless of where or who they sleep with.

If your child has a chronic medical condition or they have experienced stress or trauma, such as a parent leaving, you might feel sorry or guilty and encourage them to co-sleep with you for comfort. We need to reflect on the beliefs we have around our children’s illnesses or circumstances to see if we are trying to overcompensate unnecessarily. Asking ourselves honestly whether they need our comfort to help them go to sleep, or whether we are interfering with their necessity to sleep alone because of our own emotions and beliefs.

Are we looking for comfort and company, or projecting our own fears and anxieties onto them?

If they are ill or under any sort of stress, they will need to sleep more than ever.

It’s tempting to comfort and soothe them to sleep at these difficult times but when will the cut-off point be? The odd night is normal such as when they are sick or have had a bad dream, but if we make it a regular habit, we could still be sleeping with our teenagers!

I know all those attachment parents out there who believe co-sleeping is best will be going wild right now, everyone’s entitled to parent their own way. I’m not saying my way is right and their way is wrong, but I have a strong attachment bond with my children, and we haven’t co-slept.

Attachments come from love, and I believe routines provide all the love and comfort our children need to feel safe, secure, healthy, and happy. Routines make us proactive and responsive as parents, helping us meet the needs of our children before they desperately need them. Mums need a good night sleep to be emotionally and physically available to their children.

We also need to maintain a loving relationship with our partners to keep that bond strong too, something sharing a bed with our children makes impossible.

There were 3 in the bed & the little one said ‘Roll over!’

I’ve encountered many parents who have this attachment parenting style, who reject routine and let their children choose what they eat, wear, and when and where they sleep. Personally, I’ve not found these children any happier than any other child. I don’t think children are experienced or capable of making the best choices for themselves. Given the choice, what child wants to go to bed early, on their own, or eat vegetables over chips?

That doesn’t make us unfair for insisting they do though. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an advocate for having close physical contact with your child. I kiss and cuddle my teenagers, and tell them I love them more than once every day, and have done so since they were born.

Since my children were born our family has benefited from the comfort and reassurance of a consistent routine #TheUUrselfRoutine

I also encourage them to be themselves and express how they feel and comfort and reassure them in times of need. But even though they are teenagers now, I still know what’s best for them, and yes, they both still have a bedtime routine and are in bed at a set reasonable time on a school night. Call me old fashioned, but I want them to get all the rest they can and to feel refreshed for school the next day. Obviously, they’d prefer to be on their electronic devices, but we take them off them at bedtime so they can’t. I’m not punishing them though. I’m helping them.

I encourage you to try letting your child lead the way if you want to experiment, then come back to a routine if that’s not working.

It’s a lot harder to provide consistent routines and to encourage our children to adopt healthy eating and sleeping habits, but that’s the kind of nurturing that being a parent is all about. They can spend the rest of their adult lives making their own independent choices regarding what’s right for them, until then, let’s show them the healthiest ways.

As previously said, we offer our children routines for their own good, out of love. That doesn’t mean that they are going to feel good about them in the beginning though.

If we have co-slept with our child for the last six years, but now would like them to move into their own bed in their own room, then we need to understand how they might feel. From their perspective, we’re telling them to move from the shared, warm, safe comforts that they have always known to the cold, lonely, dark, unknown room across the landing.

Understandably, this new bedtime routine would upset them and seem more like a punishment for growing up. Their behaviour toward the changes, which could lead to angry or emotional protests or regressive behaviours such as, bed wetting or clinginess, is not intended to upset us for moving them into their own room. This is merely a normal reaction to change and to feeling afraid, anxious, or unsettled.

Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be okay. We must be understanding. Calming any fears they have in a calm and confident manner whilst still communicating to them it’s not a bad change in circumstances, it’s just different!

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Next time we’ll tackle Enuresis aka, bed wetting, until then, Stay Present Em x

Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE SLEEP?

Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and it is possible that they can have too much sleep too. Routine is the only way to avoid too little or too much sleep.

We need to know what time they go to bed, when they wake up, and how long they sleep for in total throughout the night and day and make changes where necessary. Once we can rule out the amount of time they are sleeping as the issue, the next avenue to explore is lack of recreation or exercise throughout the day, an issue the U URSELF Routine will be able to address

WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?

Other reasons include; an inability to relax, their environment, nightmares, attention seeking, illness or pain, bedwetting, worrying, or more commonly; their inability to personally pacify themselves to sleep alone. 

All of these can be resolved once identified. Once they are, a nightly routine will emerge.  But a routine won’t guarantee our children will skip happily up the stairs to bed when the clock strikes seven. They’ll still be reluctant to sleep and won’t want to be isolated from the exciting activity of the home. Especially if they can hear us or their sibling’s downstairs having fun, chatting or laughing at the TV, making bedtime an issue.

Photo by Brandless on Unsplash

One child may be younger, making their bedtime different from their older siblings, and this is where difficulties can lie. 

Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash

Obviously, they won’t want to be going to bed alone and will try any way they can to prevent this from happening, there’s nothing we can do to make them sleep, however, we must still stick to their bedtime routine and make sure they go to their room at the appropriate time. Eventually, they will get used to this bedtime routine if it remains constant each evening, but there’s little else we can do, it’s their choice to sleep or not.

We know sleeping is an essential part of their daily routine, but they’ll see it as a fun spoiler. Even when children are familiar with and understand the benefits of their routines, if absorbed in play or watching their favourite TV programme, they won’t welcome the interruption those routines bring. Those things they enjoy doing will still always outweigh the benefits of going to bed to sleep. Unfortunately, that’s life—they have to get used to it!

WARNINGS AND REMINDERS

But we can make it easier for them to accept. The best way to do that is to give them plenty of warnings and reminders, but the worst way is to suddenly end their fun. For example, if their bedtime is at seven, and as soon as the clock turns, we abruptly say to them;

 ‘Come on, time for bed now!’

This can be an unwelcome surprise.

We need to gradually prepare our children with warnings and reminders first. Letting them know fifteen to ten minutes beforehand that it is nearly time for bed, gives them the chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves.

NO EXCUSE

Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep will have a knock-on effect on every other part of the U URSELF Routine. Impacting upon everything they do, and every area of our children’s lives. So, there can be no excuses to stay up just a bit later at bedtime. It’s normal for children to stall going to bed and suddenly get the urge to discuss events that happened in their day. Conveniently, these important matters can never wait, even though they’ve forgotten to mention them for the last six hours or more! 

In these situations, all we need to do to resolve such stalling is to let them know calmly that in future, they will need to get ready for bed a little earlier, allowing them more time to chat about their day or brush their teeth.

They may be a little more reluctant to chat about insignificant things when they realise it’ll take up the last few minutes of their playtime in the evening.

Alternatively, you may find that your child is not dawdling deliberately to stay up later, but are taking their time because they are tired, and they may actually need to go to bed a bit earlier in future?

First, we have to establish the real reasons keeping them awake. The excuses children give are not always what’s preventing them from sleeping.

If they need the toilet five minutes after they’ve been, this is unlikely to be genuine. That’s not to say our children are aware they are making excuses intentionally. Sometimes, they themselves don’t know the real reason why they can’t sleep, or why they’ve suddenly woken up halfway through the night.

We need to be aware though that whatever is keeping them from sleeping may not always be what they say.

CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

We can help make bedtimes more inviting and cosier for our children by creating the right environment. They need to feel comfortable, safe, and secure in their bed, knowing we are nearby if they need us. The things they tend to complain about such as; it’s too cold, too light, too dark, or too scary won’t always be the actual problem keeping them awake at night. These can be symptoms of their underlying anxiety about something they cannot relate or associate with, as being the real issue. Still, we need to address these first by creating the right environment, as they could be the cause of their sleep disturbances and need to be ruled out. Making sure they have a comfortable bed in their own room that is the right temperature (not too hot or too cold) with the right amount of bedding for the season is basic. Keeping noise down helps a light or sensitive sleeper too, and then if any of these things need altering, they are easy to do.

We can regulate temperature by opening a window, using a fan, putting the heating on, or providing extra blankets to create warmth. 

Any signs of light will wake them easily and affect their body clock, so it’s a good idea investing in blackout blinds or curtains. Avoiding the use of night lights or leaving landing lights on to comfort them is advisable, unless a one-off occasion such as to reassure them after a bad dream. If their physical environment is conducive to a good night’s sleep, and hunger or overtiredness can be ruled out, yet they’re still not sleeping through the night, something else is stopping them.

The usual culprits are illness, teething, and general pain, which we will address in next week’s blog post.

Until then, Stay Present, Em x

If you would like an issue covered in next months blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Behaviour, Routine, SLEEP, U Time, Us Time

CHILDREN NEED DOWN TIME

Having quiet U Time and Us Time, time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day is just as important as napping or sleeping at night.

Since publishing this months blog New Year Old You https://happychildcare.club/2020/01/10/new-year-old-you/ I’ve had emails from parents saying they have no problem sleeping, that they are so exhausted they could sleep standing up, but their kids won’t sleep!

As we know, our children want to be with us all the time, flattering as this may be, we need our U Time, and they need their sleep. We have to find ways of encouraging them to want to go to bed and make bedtime a comfortable, relaxing experience they’ll look forward to.

There’s no Magical Cure, Sleeping Potions, or Sand Man in the world who is able to make our children sleep if they don’t want to. Nobody can really make anybody sleep if they are not willing to do so, not even a Hypnotherapist like me. But there are ways in which we can help our children to relax and feel comfortable to sleep alone, soundly throughout the night. 

Having quiet Us Time, time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day is just as important as napping or sleeping at night. Usually a cuddle and a picture book helps children to relax, and by finding a book that has a message you’d like to convey to your child is especially useful, the children I mind enjoy the Tony Ross Little Princess Story books, the I don’t want to go to bed! one can be found on Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Want-Bed-Little-Princess/dp/1783440171/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=i+dont+want+to+go+to+bed+book+PRINCESS&qid=1579861528&sr=8-3

Physical and mental capacity is impaired with too much activity and stimulation. This can be nearly as bad as none at all, making learning to relax a useful skill.

A day at School or Nursery sandwiched between child-minders, breakfast, or After School Clubs and family and friends is exhausting and demanding for our young children. This is just what we expect our children to do as part of their normal day.

Children are so busy playing!

Providing an adequate amount of activity for their age and allowing them plenty of time to do things, unrushed, can help them with all the comings and goings of everyday life.

For babies, any activity or visits should be short and sweet.

It’s easy to overestimate what they need or what they are capable of tolerating. Routines such as nappy changing, bathing, or a trip to the shops are physically and mentally stimulating and exciting to them.

A bath before bed aids sleep!

We might not feel we’ve exerted ourselves by taking a trip to the shops, followed by a visit to Auntie Sue’s, but our baby will have.

Everything is new to them, and as they are constantly learning and encountering different experiences, we must allow plenty of periods for them to rest and process them.

Tempting as it is to play with them for hours on end with noisy, colourful toys, or wake them for a cuddle, passing them around cooing friends and family, this can all be too much for them to tolerate.

Friends & family overload.

They soon become tired and irritable for what seems like no apparent reason. Then after such a busy day, we find ourselves puzzled as to why they cannot sleep, wondering why they are fighting it.

Why don’t they just fall straight to sleep when we’ve tried our best all day to wear them out? 

Well, the answer is, they simply cannot relax when they are irritable and past the point of sleep.

As they have no control over what happens to them, and no way to communicate their feelings, they become frustrated and upset.

And being picked up while fast asleep and moved can be a rude awakening that none of us would welcome.

Babies don’t understand the journey has come to an end, and it’s time to get out of the car, into the hustle and bustle of a busy supermarket. They were happy fast asleep. So, we have to be as sensitive, understanding, and accommodating to their needs as possible by offering uninterrupted, regular rest periods in order to prevent them becoming overtired and anxious.

RELIEVING ANXIETY

It’s easy to spot if our children are overtired by how they behave.

Their emotions will be exaggerated, seeming unnecessary or inappropriate, displaying either frustration, sadness, anger, or all of those.

These emotions determine their behaviour, dictating how they act. Those feelings are there for a reason, they can help children regulate themselves if they understand and learn how to manage them.

When we recognise they’re feeling emotionally tired, we can reassure them they are simply tired and will feel better after some rest. Most children become emotionally stable and behave appropriately with adequate rest.

After a good night’s sleep or a short nap, they wake feeling refreshed and happy once again.

If not, then getting to the real problem and resolving the issues will be essential before expecting them to sleep well. 

We need to make sure they are not anxious or stressed but are relaxed before bedtime.

Problems from the day can be left simmering in the back of their mind at bedtime, or fears over future events can bother them.

If they have things to face the next day which they are not looking forward to, such as a test at school or even a visit to the dentist, these worries can cause anxiety, manifesting as nighttime wakings.

We can help eliminate concerns they have by using Us Time to let them discuss issues openly with us each day and by offering them the chance to relax daily. Offloading some of their worries and relaxing more will provide time to think, reflect, and rationalise their thoughts and feelings (we will look at ways to do this in later blog posts when we look at Esteem and The Bother Box). Make sure you join our Newsletter so you don’t miss it!

A regular bed time routine is key to a good nights sleep! zzzzz

Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. As well as helping them to process the day’s events, and to make sense of all they’ve learnt and experienced. Without adequate sleep, their mental and emotional capabilities are affected including their concentration and physical coordination. So, when tired, they are more accident prone and clumsy, their memory and learning abilities are affected, making it difficult to learn, remember, or concentrate, and their behaviour, moods, and emotions are all disrupted.

Sweet Dreams!

They can even experience disturbances that hinder the production of appetite controlling hormones which could be a contributing factor in possible weight gain.

Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and we’ll look at these over the next few blogs, so Stay Present until then, Em x

Images courtesy of Unsplash https://unsplash.com/

Powerful Parents, Routine, SLEEP, U Time

NEW YEAR OLD YOU?

Okay its cliché New Year New YOU right?

Wrong … this year there’s going to be a difference …  it’s the old YOU we want back. Flat belly, super sexy, slim, confident, and stress-free, you remember how it used to be pre -baby (well pre -motherhood really, most of us mum’s are past the baby phase and with teenagers in toe we still blame the baby weight for not feeling great.)

Well 2020 marks a new decade, it’s a big milestone so it’s time for big changes!

FRESH START

January, we turn to resolutions to make changes in our lives, and the number one for most mums is to lose weight or eat healthier. 

But usually by February, that all falls by the wayside as motivation wanes and our old habits return to comfortably seduce us back to the familiar foods we know and love. 

As a Mum and nutritional therapist, myself, I know how all too easy it is to do. I may want to change but my family may not, and staying strong and encouraging them can be a difficult task when I’m also craving certain foods and drink. 

Most of us know that we should exercise, eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and get a good night’s sleep, its common sense, but how many of us actually do that every day? 

And if we don’t, how can we make our kids? 

Just knowing what to do, doesn’t make it automatically happen. 

As Voltaire’s dictum goes; 

 ‘That common sense is not so common’ 

We know what we should be doing to help ourselves as well as our children but often we just don’t know how or where to start? 

As our childrens most influential role model starting with ourselves is key, and here are 7 tips to get you started in 2020. 

1. No plan is a plan to fail – Snacking and eating at irregular times of the day stimulates weight gain. A good regular mealtime routine just like the one you would provide for your child as part of the U URSELF Routine is just as important for you as it is for your child. So, plan ahead, decide a menu of meals in advance and write a list of ingredients before you shop, this means you’re more likely to stick to the plan. Preparing meals in advance and batch cooking with a few key ingredients helps too, as well as taking your own packed lunch to work. Stocking your kitchen with healthy snack options and discarding unhealthy options is advisable, when we are starving it’s easy to reach for a quick fix in sugar or salt. You can’t rely on will power in those moments of weakness so best not to put temptation in front of you. To boost your motivation, keep a journal of everything you eat and drink either buy a nice notebook or use an app on your phone, there are some really good free ones where you can scan bar codes on food to keep track of every calorie or oz of fat. This can be a real eyeopener. I use MyNetDiary https://www.mynetdiary.com/ on my iPhone s its free, quick and easy!

Research has proven that those who write their goals down meaningfully increase their chances of success in achieving those goals by 30% and keeping track as in using the above app and measuring your progress along the way helps you to increase your chances of success by a whopping 60%!!!!

Reviewing your goals is a must, it keeps you motivated, on track and shows you what changes need to be made and helps you to see your progress. You can’t conveniently forget when you record what you are eating and drinking. Being honest with yourself is essential to maintaining or losing weight.

2. Meal monotony – Eat the same meals, boring I know but that’s the secret to eating less, your taste buds are less likely to overeat when you’re full, if what’s on offer is a boring plate of food they are used to, and this will stop you over eating. Plan meals in advance and shop online for the ingredients, this way you won’t be tempted to buy the foods you don’t want or need, saving you money as well as calories, opt for soup, salads, fish pulses and drink plenty of water. You may not like fish or salad for example, but love chicken and vegetables and that’s okay, just eat lots of veg instead. It’s important to find those foods that you do like, not to eat things because you think they’ll help you to lose weight. Don’t deny or forbid yourself- this is important because the reason diets don’t work long-term is because we can’t deny or deprive ourselves forever and why should we?

The key to permanent weight loss is finding a healthy lifestyle that you can enjoy and live with forever, not until you reach your weight loss goal. 

3. EAT MORE- for most of us it’s not how much we eat that causes us weight gain it’s what we are eating. Ironically another key to losing weight is to fill up, when we are hungry, we make unhealthy choices. Bulking up on healthy, nutritious food prevents us feeling ravenous.

Foods that are filling are those that weigh more, have larger volume and a higher water content (more on this later under Water). Fruits and fibre, beans, lentils, quinoa, oats and barley absorb water and are high in fibre. Water and fibre add bulk making you feel fuller for longer and the good news is, water and fibre have zero calories. To lose weight we need to choose more slow carbs too, these are known as low glycaemic foods or low GI foods, these make you feel full for longer as they keep your blood sugar even, preventing cravings, regulating your appetite and helping you to last longer between meals so you are less inclined to snack. These are what we call ‘good carbs. A low GI meal inhibits a spike in insulin, promoting satiety and rate of weight loss. You can find some low GI Recipes here https://www.gisymbol.com/low-gi-everyday-meal-plan/

You will consume more volume and weight without feeling hungry by adopting a low-density diet.

4. RESISTANCE EXERCISE- Now I need no excuse to resist exercise, this is something that comes naturally to me, in fact out of all the possible addictions in this world I could have, exercise is probably one of the only ones I don’t have!!!

But I’m only joking, when talking about resistance exercise I’m referring to muscle strengthening. We need to work our arms, shoulders, legs, hips, back, chest and abdomen at least twice a week to be of any benefit, using heavy weights to lift or using our body weight such as push or sit ups, or using resistance bands, if you’re a scaffolder or do manual work you’re ahead of the game. Also, if you do any sporting activities regularly such as rugby or gymnastics. But you do need to push yourself when strengthening those muscles to the point where you feel you can’t possible do one more lift of crunch. But this muscle building needs to be done gradually so you progress over time and eventually 15 repetitions turn into 50, as your strength and stamina increase. This is important as we age as resistance exercises can help to prevent brittle bones, and increasing your muscle mass helps you to burn more calories, so the more muscle the better. If you are reducing your calorie intake you will lose muscle as well as fat however, when including muscle strengthening exercises you keep hold of more muscle and end up losing more fat. It also accelerates your metabolism which means that you continue to burn calories hours later following exercise, according to Melby et al., 1993 your BMR is elevated for up to 15 hours after exercise, due to the oxidation of body fat, and it increases the effectiveness of your nutrient uptake in your muscles reducing insulin-related fat storage.

Seems there are no better reasons to use weight resistance training to burn fat and build muscle – this doesn’t mean though, you have to go to the gym lifting heavy weights, as a parent especially of younger children you probably won’t have time or a babysitter to allow for this, but don’t worry, all you need is a couple of hand weights or a resistant leg exerciser that can fold away, or some stretchy bands, and if you only have ten minutes a day that’s all you need to feel and see the positive changes that can occur over time, with consistent use. Excuse me while I convert my clothes horse back to the weights bench I bought one January, aeons ago….

5. SOBRIETY

Anyone who knows me will know I love a drink, but I know that although alcohol is socially acceptable and even associated with good times and celebrations, it’s still a neurotoxic, psychoactive drug that depresses the central nervous system. That’s why the government offer guidelines for how many units we should drink a week, but who pays attention or really knows what they are? Well in the UK it’s no more than 14 units per week for both genders last time I checked https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/alcoholic-drinks-units/latest-uk-alcohol-unit-guidance/

Still means little to me, after a few I’ve lost count of how many glasses of wine I’ve drunk let alone units per glass. But if we are counting calories shockingly, for anyone trying to lose weight, there’s approximately 500 calories in a bottle of wine!

Add to that the fact alcohol makes us feel hungry and crave unhealthy food types, then its best to stay away completely if we want to be slim and trim in 2020. But I’m no party pooper, if you socialise there’s great alcoholic beverage alternatives these days or low alcoholic ones.

Low alcoholic drinks are poised for big business in 2020 but I don’t particularly like the taste of them, in fact, most of us drink for the buzz not the flavour we get from booze, so many of us will be better off with a normal soft drink. My favourite is flavoured, fizzy water, it still feels like a treat compared to the plain still water I drink all day, as it’s got the sweet fizz to fool my brain into thinking I’m having a reward. This is important as having rewards is vital to changing our habits. Some of us may not be motivated by rewards so we may want to focus on avoiding a negative consequence instead, such as a hangover.  As we age, we do tend to suffer more with hangovers as our bodies struggle to metabolise alcohol, and we fight intoxication and dehydration, then as soon as our liver has had enough, we get a headache.

6. WATER – THE ELIXIR OF LIFE

That’s when our faithful sober friend, water helps, by drinking buckets of the stuff, we dilute that alcohol and relieve that banging head.

Our bodies are around 60% to 70% water in weight a day. Some of us can be carrying an extra 10 to 15 pounds of excess water daily, which has become trapped in our tissues.

This excess water causes abdominal bloating, face & eye puffiness and cellulite, and it can be caused from many things such as;

• Food sensitivities

• Nutrient & antioxidant deficiencies

• Medication

• Hormones i.e. menstrual cycle

• Not enough protein

• Not enough WATER!!!

Yes, ironically not drinking enough water can actually cause water retention.

WHY WATER?

Our kidneys need water to flush toxins and waste from our bodies, but when water reserves are low i.e., we haven’t drunk enough water, our kidneys end up storing water.

On top of that, not enough water and our lymphatic system slows down too.

When this happens and our bodies can no longer carry waste away, that waste then accumulates in fat cells leading to cellulite, particularly in women.

And what better reason do we need to increase our water intake, than the fact that it suppresses our appetites, and naturally helps our bodies to metabolise stored fat?

As an added bonus drinking enough water gives us clearer complexions. After only 5 days of not drinking any alcohol and increasing my water intake someone commented to me this week, on how good my skin and complexion looked.

And of course, when we are drinking plenty of water then we are not drinking too much caffeine, fizzy drinks and fruit juices. All of which cause us to gain weight and increase our daily calorie intake considerably.

WEIGHING ALL THIS UP

Our weight changes due to our hydration levels.

Make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels


Therefore, if you do weigh yourself regularly, for accuracy make sure you weigh yourself at approximately the same time of day, with similar hydration levels. For more in-depth readings you can also buy Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis [BIA] scales, because these can measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels.

HOW MUCH WATER DO WE NEED?

Water is essential for survival.

We can live without most things but not water.

It maximises our muscle functions, rids our bodies of excess water, and increases our metabolism. But to do all that efficiently we need to drink about two litres [or eight glasses of water] a day, for our bodies to function properly.

On top of that, in hot weather we should all be drinking more than the recommended daily amounts.

And did you know that if you are overweight, you will need an extra glass for every twenty pounds of excess weight you carry?

HOW CAN WE INCREASE OUR WATER CONSUMPTION IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT?

– TOP TIP 1

Get into the habit of always carrying a bottle of water with you wherever you go!

– TOP TIP 2

ADD WATER TO MEALS

To help with weight loss, drink plenty of water prior to and during meals.

Also, drink your daily calories in vegetable soups, because soups fill up our stomachs more and for longer.

Research has also shown that low energy density foods- that is foods that have a high-water content such as stews and soups, and foods such as salads and fruits that are naturally high in water; reduce appetite and make us eat less high calorie foods.

So, we need to increase our intake of water rich foods, as well as foods that absorb water during cooking, such as rice and pasta, if we want to lose weight without feeling hungry.

WATER THE ELIXIR OF WEIGHT LOSS

So, there you have it, weight gain can be attributed to water retention, and paradoxically water can be the answer to weight loss.

So, in either case drink up if you’re trying to lose weight!

This was my actual fridge when on that weight loss journey a few years ago. No room for food, that’s why I must have dropped those 2 dress sizes so quickly????

7. SLEEP- We are all different and the amount of sleep each one of us needs will vary, some will bounce out of bed after 6 hours of sleep, others need 9 hours to feel refreshed. Quality and quantity of sleep is important. As parents though both of these are usually in short supply. Getting our children into a good bedtime sleeping routine early on is best as that will give us the time we need to relax, unwind and eventually get a good night’s sleep ourselves.

PARENTS NEED SLEEP MORE THAN ANYTHING OR ANYONE ELSE

What can be worse than a tired child?

A tired parent and child of course!

Lack of sleep is not only detrimental to children, it’s also detrimental to our own mental state. If we can sleep soundly, undisturbed, and comfortable for around seven hours a night, we will be in a better position to deal with our children the next day.

But if we scrape by on a couple of broken hours here or there, we are likely to find ourselves overreacting on Auto Pilot Parenting Mode.

Everybody experiences times when they can’t sleep at night, but if its ongoing with no apparent cause, and it isn’t to do with physical factors such as temperature or something we can identify with such as pain, then we need to be proactive and find out what the cause is.

Being a parent is exhausting enough when we can sleep, let alone when we can’t.

Our children can seem more challenging at those times when we are tired, and their unwanted behaviour can seem worse than it actually is.

Although their behaviour is actually worse when they don’t get enough sleep. This is because the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain, is more active when a parent or child is sleep deprived. This explains why a tired child is usually very emotional for no reason and parents are angry, impatient, and frustrated more.

Together, a sleep deprived parent and child is an emotional disaster.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, none of us should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep.

Lack of sleep is also accumulative, and its much harder to catch up on missed sleep than you may think.

That’s why we have to catch up on sleep whenever we can.

Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night.  Parents sometimes avoid their children taking daytime naps, fearing they won’t sleep as long at night, but the reverse is actually true.

Sleep deprived children have the worst sleeping habits, and those who nap in the day, actually sleep better at night. Children who need, but do not take a nap in the day, become overtired.

Once irritable, they find it difficult getting off to sleep or staying asleep throughout the night.  This results in further irritability and oversensitivity the next day, causing challenging behaviour which can then lead to hyperactivity, especially at bedtime when they should be tired.

As children get older, days get longer, and nights shorter, then, more than ever, they need to rest from all the stimulation and digest the information and experiences from the day. We need to allow them the freedom to sleep whenever they feel the need to, not just when we want them or don’t want them to. This way, they will sleep more soundly at night.

If their mind and body is telling them to sleep, no matter what their age, from five weeks to fifteen years, then they need it.

  • How do you feel when you do not get your nightly quota of sleep?
  • Do you ever feel so tired you struggle to get through the next day, only to go to bed that night unable to go to sleep?

Children do too! They get overtired and stimulated, resulting in unhealthy sleeping patterns. The only solution is for them to sleep whenever they can, to restore the balance and improve their sleeping habits.

  • Think about a time when your child kept you awake all night for whatever reason. Then imagine how they must have felt and how tired they must have been the next day, probably ten times worse than you, I bet.

They do not understand why either we or they themselves are irritable, annoyed, upset, and emotional when tired. This becomes a sleep deprived combo not to be crossed.

To check out subjectively whether or not you’re getting enough sleep take a look at The Epworth Sleepiness Scale  https://epworthsleepinessscale.com/about-the-ess/

We need sleep to normalise hormones: melatonin and cortisol. Cortisol regulates our immune systems, metabolism, blood sugar and stress response any lack of sleep will instantly impact your cortisol levels. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle and is needed to regulate metabolism, the immune system, reproduction and co-ordination. Not having a regular sleeping routine or working nights or shifts, change these hormones. If trying to lose weight sleep deprivation won’t help, research shows when you sleep less you eat and drink more calories and if you are fighting to stay awake, you are probably going to turn to high sugar and high fat foods and drinks.

I can think of no better time to renew my mattress, bed clothes and most importantly my pillows, than a new decade. We spend a whopping 26 hours asleep in our beds in our lifetime according to a Dreams online article by Gemma Curtis https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/your-life-in-numbers-infographic/

Unfortunately, for many of us we spend that tossing and turning. Comfort is crucial for this heavenly retreat we call bed, so investing in this is a true investment in our health and wellbeing. Satin sheets are great anti-aging, skin creasing fabric for looking younger, longer and also for cheeky sensual early nights with a loved one, but for comfort, cotton in the highest thread count that you can afford is the best chance of a soothing, peaceful deep sleep.

It’s also advisable to get into a regular sleep cycle by going to be bed and waking up the same time each day, including weekends (forget those lazy Sunday lie ins…ooops I forgot we don’t get those anyway we are parents!)

And don’t eat big meals where you are stuffed, or drink alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed. Poor nutrition can also cause chronic fatigue, so avoiding sugar and stimulants such as alcohol, coffee, tea and chocolate is recommended along with including more vitamin C into your diet and eating healthy antioxidant-rich foods.

Keeping your bedroom around 16°C to 18°C degrees is the best temperature for encouraging a good night’s sleep too.

So, whether its a fresh start you’re after or finding the old You that you know and love, I wish you a happy, healthy, fun, sprinkled with sleep, Mumilicious 2020!

Your Time is the Present, Enjoy the Gift,

Em x

Photos thanks to:  Denise Karis on Unsplash

Photo by Natasha Spencer on Unsplash

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash

Behaviour, Powerful Parents, Proactive Parenting, The U URSELF Routine

Surviving the Christmas hols with kid’s!

As the build-up to Christmas begins, we dream of cosy nights cuddled around a fairy-lit tree in a onesie, warmed by tipples and rich treats, while surrounded by gifts and carols. However, the reality often is that, what should be a time of joy and laughter usually ends up in tears and drama!

Why?

Because we are trying so hard to be perfect parents, purchasing perfect gifts, in order to make the perfect Christmas day special for everyone, frivolously spending, organising, cooking, cleaning, writing cards, wrapping gifts, amid the chaos of dirty nappies, sleepless nights, toddler tantrums or teenage angst!

Being home all day in pj’s watching movies and indulging in food and drink, may sound like a perfect day when we are stressed at work, but after a few days home with all the family, and unhelpful visitors coming to stay, the Christmas spirit soon fades and the only spirit you’ll want to feel will be in a glass with a dash over ice.

Drink anyone?

Children easily get bored, they need their tiresome routines to keep them stimulated, exercised, rested, healthy and content.

THE U URSELF ROUTINE

No matter how many hundreds of pounds we’ve lavishingly spent on toys and entertainment in the hope of some peace, squabbling with siblings will always be their preferred past time, especially when fuelled with sugar, late nights and too many new toys to choose from causing stimulation over load.

But there is a way to survive these Christmas holiday’s with our kids when feeling in despair or when you’re losing control of your children and don’t know how to get it back.

Stop fighting them.

Fighting against them in a constant battle about everything and feeling defeated all the time will get you nowhere.

End the battle & win the war.

My advice, which may surprise you is to go along with your children whenever you feel totally powerless and see what happens.


I’m not suggesting you leave your children to their own devices and let them walk all over you, encouraging them to take advantage of your apathy. I just want you to try and accept and allow their demands temporarily, while you regain your confident composure and sense of authority and self.


This will undoubtedly show your children that you’re not accepting their behaviour powerlessly. Instead, you’re showing them that you don’t mind either way how they behave.

What? I hear you shout; you most certainly do mind how they behave?

Bear with me on this. This reverse psychological approach not only confuses children somewhat, but as intended, it equips parents to deal with their childrens behaviour, trust me, it works. But it does mean letting go and going with the flow.

LETTING GO OF CONTROL

Our aim as parents should not be to control our children, but to allow them the freedom to be themselves and to grow as unique individuals.

Too much control can restrict our children’s potential to become autonomous, decision making, happy, and healthy individuals.  And the reality is, we can’t control our children’s every action or emotion even if we try. It’s difficult enough trying to control our own actions and emotions, let alone our children’s. That’s why the only solution we really have is to release some of that control.

We can do this by acknowledging that our children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it.  If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs.  As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control.  

Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling.  As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance. 

We can feel safe, then, to let go of some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.

LEARNING TO LET GO EXERCISE

  • Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent, your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more aware and vigilant outside.
  • In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
  • Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward, and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!

This is your chance to let go for fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.

Over time, as we practice doing this exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then, gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no matter what, even when we venture outside in public. 

The more often you practice this exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, it’s still okay.  When they finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing happened.

We’ve still got 4 weeks to practice this exercise before Christmas is upon us, so let’s start today, take a deep breath, and go with the flow, you’ve got this!

Stay Powerful,

Em x

#Gowiththeflow #PowerfulParents

Tweet me https://twitter.com/EmmaGrantAuthor

Thanks to Unsplash for images 🙂

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash

CHILDMINDING, Learning, Starting School, Stay Present, Us Time

WHY I LOVE MY JOB?

As a Childminder, whenever one of my little ones start school it’s always a proud, yet emotional moment for me.  

Those bonds we share everyday are strong and although they are not my own children, a piece of my heart goes with them on their 1st day at school, as I fondly remember them as babies and; their first babblings, to articulate words and sentences, leaning to feed themselves, spag bol up the walls Picasso style, potty training, learning to crawl, walk, skip, hop, jump, make marks on paper (or furniture, floors and walls!)  sing their first nursery rhymes, funny comments, and building their first brick tower or puzzle.

They are all mini moments in history, etched on our memories forever.

In these moments of reflection, I feel proud that I’ve helped them, along with their loving parents, get this far. Helping to build foundations I know, will set them in good stead for their futures of unlimited possibilities.

Who knows what each child will become?

Every child has the potential to benefit society and even change the world.


Right now, you’ll never know the impact your child may have upon the planet?

In the absence of other people’s opinions and limiting beliefs, children can realise their dreams. If we felt when we were younger, that becoming Prime Minister wasn’t an aspiration that we could achieve, that doesn’t mean our children can’t. I suspect Margaret Thatcher’s parents didn’t expect her to become the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the first female Head of National Government in Europe, but she did it!

From humble beginnings we all grow!

Yes, today one of our little ones, starts her first day at nursery, and I’m reminded how very lucky I am to share in their life, and to have been given such a great responsibility and privilege, as we have with all the other children before them and yet to come.

Not one child we have cared for over the past fifteen years has just been another child. Each child is special, all unique individuals, impacting our lives in numerous different ways, all thankfully good.

I can remember every single one, even those in their twenties who refuse my Social Media friend requests today lol!

And we are proud to be Godparents to many too.

So why do I love my Job….?

Because.

Today I was told I was loved, and all it took was a custard cream.

Today I felt the love and all I did was read a short story.

Today a child fell over and all I could be was loving.

I COULDN’T WORK WITH KIDS

People joke, ‘I don’t know how you do your job; I couldn’t work with kids all day!’

And I ponder why?

As I swing in the sunshine at the park, listening to all the children laughing and playing.

SIMPLE THINGS

I get to walk through nature every day, alongside little inquisitive people, who see everything with fresh eyes and awe, no matter what the season.

They get excited by the allure of a puddle of rain water, they notice the clouds that pass them by, the ever-changing trees swaying in the breeze, and the birds singing, while balancing on its branch with ease.

Such simple things tend to please.

IT’S ONLY THE SCHOOL RUN

Yes, it’s only the school run and a normal day just like any other, we may be all hurried and worried and racing to get it done, but young children find it fascinating, amazed but such simplicity and beauty. They see what we’ve forgot to notice.

Everyday I’m blessed to have little friends who point these gifts of nature out to me, for without them, I would be oblivious to all the splendour around.

TREES ARE GREEN

All too often I hear a child asking a grownup;

‘What colour are the trees?’

And the grownup will smile knowingly and say;

‘Well, trees are green.’

But a child will know better.

Yes, children are younger and wiser, their mission always fun, naturally happy and full of possibilities, of things not yet done.

Love, laughter and joy is always present, especially when working with children, that’s why I love my job!

Stay Present,

Em x

Proactive Parenting, Recreation, Stay Present, Us Time

THE SCHOOL RUN

Back to School and back to routine, YAY!!!

But also, back to that dreaded school run every day!

I know all too well how you feel, I’ve been doing those school runs for fifteen years and about five years ago I began to dislike them myself, usually when I was skating down the lane with a pushchair and tribe of little people, through the winter ice and snow or when it started bucketing down with rain at precisely 3pm when I was leaving the house, or on those sweltering summer days stuck in morning mayhem traffic, while getting a tribe of little ones in and out of the car.

But then I realised one thing, the daily school run or wherever else we need to go, still takes a journey to get there, whether we stop to notice all the splendour around us or stress out about the weather or traffic.

I know we’re tired, busy and don’t have the time to waste, standing and staring at trees and clouds. But do we have time not to?

This beautiful love of life and nature, is the reason why children wake up so early in the morning.

THINK MORE CHILD-LIKE

Children are naturally present in each and every moment. They see the world and are in awe of its beauty and newness, they’re not tired of life. They enjoy exploring all it has to offer and have all the time in the world to stand and stare. The school run is a chance for them to appreciate the beautiful blue sky, with white, fluffy clouds, making unusual shapes. They muse at the sun shining on the dew drops, glistening as they dance on the lush green blades of grass. This beautiful love of life and nature, is the reason why children wake up so early in the morning. They are excited about the adventure that lay ahead each day and they don’t want to miss out on anything or waste time sleeping.

THE RAINBOW IS THE TREASURE

They’re more interested in the beautiful colours of the rainbow itself.

To children, the journey is as relevant as the destination. They couldn’t care less about the pointless pot of gold, at the end of the rainbow, they’re more interested in the beautiful colours of the rainbow itself. If we can remember to think more like them again, as we once did as children, this makes life a lot easier and more enjoyable, not only for our children but for us too.

 FRESH AIR & ADVENTURE

We all need a bit of daily fresh air, but by simply taking our children out for a walk- in nature, we offer them an adventure. From bug hunting to blackberry picking, adventures don’t feel like exercise but fun. Yesterday while walking home from school in my neighbourhood, despite a sprinkling of rain, we foraged for Blackberries.

Adventure waits at the end of your street! ~ I took this pic yesterday on the way home from school.

LOVE OF NATURE

Taking them out in all weathers, wet, windy, snowy or sunny conditions will encourage or rekindle a love of the elements. This way, their surroundings become an opportunity to explore, rather than an exercise or inconvenience.

Whatever the weather there’s no excuse not to go outside.

‘There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes!’

As long as they’ve got a raincoat and wellies, jumping in muddy puddles will be all the exercise they need. 

A FORM OF MEDITATION

Being in touch with nature is said to be more beneficial, than any exercise they may do while outdoors.

Taking a stroll can clear their minds like a form of meditation too, reducing their thinking activity and providing them with a form of freedom and escapism.

FOCUS & PRODUCTIVITY

They also need regular outdoor break times at school, to provide some relief from all that concentrating in the classroom.

Taking a walk or having a run around the yard helps them to go back into lessons, with a clearer more focused mind, improving their productivity.

HABITUAL EXERCISE & SLEEP

While ditching the pushchair and allowing toddlers to walk on the school run with siblings, is a great habitual form of exercise.

It may take a little longer to get where we’re going, but rest assured our children will eat and sleep better, and be in a better mood for it, making everyone’s life happier. Nothing beats fresh air when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

Nothing beats fresh air when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

VITAMIN D

Exposure to sunshine is also great for providing children with vitamin D, which is good for absorbing phosphate and calcium, for healthy muscles, bones, and teeth. It’s unlikely they’ll get enough vitamin D from their diet, so sunshine is important.

Walking to and from school is a great way to start and finish each day. And best of all it can be fun and free!

Stay Present,

Em x

Proactive Parenting

Starting Childcare or School

Starting School or Childcare for the first time, is just as anxious a time for us parents as it it is for our children so, it’s just as important to plan ahead and prepare ourselves as much as them.

It is vital that we paint a positive picture beforehand to our children when it comes to starting school or childcare and that we make sure they view any changes optimistically as a positive, enjoyable experience. We can do this by telling them about all of the fun things they will get up to at school such as painting, play dough, and meeting new friends.

Giving them something to look forward to builds excitement and helps them to understand what to expect. A proactive approach would also be taking them to visit the school environment to meet the teachers or carers before they actually start. Also, explaining to them why they are going there, when they are going, who else will be there, and what is expected of them when they are there?

It is also a good idea to encourage them to ask any questions that they may have, such as where are the toilets?

Or where is the Lego kept?

Answering their questions and making it clear to them that we will be back to collect them after they have had a play, helps to alleviate any fears or concerns that they may have.

This preparation is essential before they start. School, nursery, or a child minders home, are always full of new people and unknown experiences. At first this can be daunting for any child, especially if they have never been left with anyone, other than family members before. Being proactive means, we expect that our children may not take to a new place or person straight away, we understand that we are asking them to go to an unknown place, full of unfamiliar strangers.

We may know it’s a safe place but our children may not, so we have to communicate this to them, this means being careful not to project or transfer our own anxieties, worries or fears onto our children.

TRANSFERENCE

Our children pick up automatically on how we are feeling. We may be telling them how much fun it is going to be at school, but if we are anxious and fretting over whether they will enjoy their first day or not, they will sense it.

When they sense our apprehension, they will think that there is something to be afraid of, and that they should be scared or worried too. Equally, if they excitedly run into school on their first day with not so much as a backward glance or goodbye, then that’s okay too. They don’t have to be happy or sad whenever we are not around. It’s natural that our children will not want to leave us because, they love us and want to be with us. We provide them with warmth, safety, comfort and love, but if they can’t wait to leave us and try out new things, it also shows what a great job we have done in helping them to feel secure and confident without us.

We just have to allow them to settle in, in their own way, in their own time. Providing we feel relaxed and optimistic about the changes, eventually they will too.

This can mean leaving our children, despite their kicking and screaming protests, all incidentally staged for our benefit. If this is too much to bare then, finding someone else to drop them off, until they get used to being left may help.

Guaranteed they will not perform so much, in front of an unemotionally, detached, audience, especially if they know that person is not going to give in to them, or lavish them with attention.  As a childminder, I have seen it hundreds of times over the years, whenever I drop other people’s children off to school, they skip in happily, yet if their parents take them, it’s a full on, award winning Oscar performance, of tears and tantrums.

KEEP A CLEAR PERSPECTIVE

 Keeping a clear perspective of the situation, and remembering that we are sending our children to school, and we are not evacuating them as some children once endured in the war, helps.

The worst thing we can do is, show our children our own anxiety. Being mindful of how our own emotions have an effect on our children and refusing to offer them any undue attention when they are over reacting is critical.

As children, we may have felt insecure at times, and there may have been occasions that caused us apprehension, such as going to school, but they were our issues and feelings not our children’s. Even if our children do display anxiety or emotions that are distressing, we need to be able to calm and reassure them that, everything will be okay. We cannot do that if we are panicking or emotional ourselves.   Keeping in mind that children who experience the most separation anxiety, usually are those whose parents are anxious about leaving them.

We convey our fears by; continually kissing our children more than once when dropping them off, calling them back for a kiss or a cuddle once they have gone off to play, picking them up or carrying them in our arms and apologetically confirming how they are feeling with words like ‘I know, I’m sorry Mummy won’t be long’.

All of these behaviours are going to naturally upset our children further. This is made especially worse if, a teacher or child carer has to physically prize our children off us as though they are taking our children away from us against our will.

Once we stop feeling anxious, we can actually help to proactively prepare our children for change, and they will relax too.

#ProactiveParenting #ProactiveParents #PowerfulParents #PresentParents #PresentParenting

Esteem, Recreation

Does The Grass Have to be Greener?

Over the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.

Now, experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.

This is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and joy.

When we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative or positive attention seeking behaviours. 

Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. They look to us for acceptance that they are doing it the right way. But when it comes to play, there is no right or wrong way, so we can encourage them to do it their way.

Even if they are technically wrong, we can allow them to think for themselves and show them that we don’t mind. If they colour the grass purple when drawing a picture, then that’s okay, it’s their picture, we can approve of it exactly as they want it to be. The grass doesn’t have to be greener!

Show them that we don’t mind if they colour the grass purple!

There’s a time and a place for formal learning and fact finding and a time and a place for freedom, love, and acceptance. Our children won’t grow up believing the grass is purple, because we haven’t corrected them or criticised their picture when they were three years old. They’ll soon learn its green by themselves, if given the opportunity to play outside. But they will grow up to feel creative, confident and with a healthy level of self-esteem, when we give them the freedom to express themselves in way’s we don’t think are correct.

http://feeds.feedburner.com/HappyChildcare

https://www.instagram.com/happychildcarepentwyn/?hl=en

U Time

Returning to Work after Children

Going back to work after spending time at home, looking after the children, can be nerve wracking. But there comes a point for most of us, when we feel ready to get back into it, or feel we need to financially return to work.

There’s also those mums amongst us, who may never have had a job or career before and now feel ready to take on a new challenge, and that can be a scary prospect initially.

It’s also a very exciting time!

Nerves and excitement are much they same, those fluttering butterflies you feel in your stomach when you fall in love, feel the same as those you feel when going for a job interview.  So, let’s not confuse our excitement for the journey ahead, as all bad.

IT’S AN INSIDE JOB!

Still feeling like a bag of nerves contemplating job interviews?

Well time to turn your anxiety and fear into courageous confidence instead!

Read on to discover how, when it comes to job interviews, getting hired is an ‘inside job’ that can work for you.

YOU’RE WORTH MORE

When looking for employment people tend to stay within financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth.

When clients who are looking to find a new vocation come to me for coaching, they nearly all have one thing in common; they never set their sights high enough.

When looking for employment people tend to stay within, financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth, overlooking those positions offering higher salaries. Don’t just limit your search to a job that is in your current earning bracket, when you realise how precious your time and skills are to others, your earning potential increases.

WANT IT!

Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

However, you must want the career not just the money it brings, if your motivation is job satisfaction then you’re more likely to get the job you want, and to do it well. Know what you want from an occupation and what you have to offer. Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

Interviewers can smell the difference between candidates desperately needing a job, and enthusiastic people who passionately want the job. So, take a deep breath and relax!

BE SELF- AWARE

That is why being self- aware of your own motives can help in getting hired or not, it can also help in coming across as confident.

Interviewers want to see how quick you can think on your feet and how self- aware you are. It’s not what you say that counts, but how you respond to a question, so be conscious of your strong and weak points in advance, because they will ask you about them. Ideally think of a weakness beforehand that you can turn into a positive, for e.g. you could say:

‘In the past I always had to work late, but now I’ve learnt how to prioritise my time more effectively.’

This will say a lot more about your strengths than your weaknesses, and will help you to stay present in the moment at all times. If you’ve planned well, then there will be no need for you to think of an answer, while the question is still being asked.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin:

‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’

BE PREPARED

So be prepared and research the company and role, the more information you have the better. Also look at what similar posts and other companies have to offer, this is useful to know, especially if you get offered the position.

Beforehand visualize the interview in every detail as you would like it to be, and focus only on what you want to achieve. Arm yourself with an abundance of your strengths, so you will be ready whenever an opportunity arises to tailor your skills to the job role.

Buying a new suit or getting your hair cut will also prepare you and boost your confidence, and will be one less thing to worry about. Moreover, when you are looking good, your confidence will shine through, and building rapport will be easier.

BUILD RAPPORT

Remember you are both there for the same reason- to fill the vacancy, so relax and show the real you. If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths, and say to yourself ten times ‘I am the right person for this job’

If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths.

Subtly match the interviewer’s body posture, tone and speed of speech, this way you will build rapport a lot quicker. And once that connection has been made, you will feel more comfortable and able to concentrate on the conversation.

A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the job though, it’s not always the best candidate that gets the position; it’s who the interviewer feels are the best interviewee on the day.

Afterwards ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time. Remember to keep things in perspective, it’s not a life or death situation, no matter how important it may feel to you at the time. View it as practice and experience, leading up to the real thing- your dream job.

Good Luck!

If you still need help with job interview nerves and confidence then get in touch, maybe Mumatherapy https://happychildcare.club/mumatherapy%e2%84%a0/ can help you get hired?

Learning, Proactive Parenting

BORN LUCKY!

We are all born lucky, lucky to be alive.

But we also create our own luck in life and this is a valuable lesson to pass onto our children.

Last Friday, I won a once in a lifetime Writing Competition with Notebook Publishing https://www.notebookpublishing.co.uk/the-notebook-family/ in their #IndieApril competition. The prize was a premium, very exclusive publication solution, meaning my book would be professionally designed and published, and made available across the world!

I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would actually win!

It was you could say; lucky I was chosen?

Only, I don’t believe in luck. I was poised and prepared already. Now I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would actually win, because, not believing in luck, I knew there was an element of chance, that I would be picked. But I had been chosen from the near hundred different entries because, I had practised what I call ‘The Four P’S in a Pod’

To explain what I mean by this, let me share with you a true story.

PATIENCE BRINGS GOOD LUCK

One day, when my daughter was younger, she was having a particularly successful day. Not only had she received a Certificate and a sticker for being ‘Star Pupil of the Week’ at School, (meaning she had the privilege of bringing the Class Teddy home for the weekend) but she also won some stationary in the School Prize Draw.

Later that afternoon, she then went on to receive her next level, Gymnastics Badge and Certificate at the Leisure Centre.

All in all, she was having a really good, successful day!

Then on the way home from Gymnastics she said to me;

‘Mum, I was losing at everything and not doing so well for a couple of weeks, but now I’m doing good at everything, all in one day!’ 

I explained to her, that it did indeed seem to be happening all in one day, but really, when she felt as though she was not doing so well, and ‘Losing at everything’ She was in fact, doing better than she thought.

Taking those necessary steps on all those days leading up to today, and not giving up, even when it looked like she was losing, had led her to successfully winning so much today, through her practise, patience and persistence.

If she had lost her patience and quit Gymnastics, when she wasn’t doing so good, or gave up trying so hard at School, when she felt like she was losing, then she would never have succeeded in getting better.

Understanding the concept of the four P’s and how they had worked for her, helped her to realise that, even though it looks as if she’s not doing well at times, or doing really well at other times, it’s all in fact, a result of her succeeding.

It was clear for her to see that, it was her patience, practise, persistence and positivity in the past, that had created her successful day, not just a lucky day.

This realisation and knowing how important these Four P’S are, in succeeding to learn, will help our children to persist in their learning endeavours. Whatever they maybe?

THE 4 P’S IN A POD – POSITIVITY, PRACTICE, PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE

It’s important our children know that, practise is key to acquiring new skills and learning, not just their ability, socioeconomic background or luck.

They need to understand that, it’s those who keep trying that are the most successful in their endeavours, not just the gifted or fortunate.

Whether it’s learning to tie their shoe laces or becoming a world class chess champion, in any endeavour, no matter how difficult a task may seem, following the four P’s creates results.

  1. Positivity
  2. Practice
  3. Patience
  4. Persistence
Who’s feeling Lucky?

When it comes to learning anything, these are like four magic peas in a pod. When these -four -combine, there’s no such thing as failure, and success is just part and parcel of the process!

There is a fifth P for us Parents too,

 Stay Present!

Stay Present, The U URSELF Routine, Us Time

BONDED BY LOVE

It’s those everyday acts of love, such as, cooking tea and chatting about their day, that strengthens the bond we share with our children.

Expressing our love a little longer than expected reinforces our love.

Next time try hugging your child a couple of minutes longer than usual and feel the love transmitted back and forth. That’s our bonds strengthening and reconnecting us to one another.

Sometimes, stuff happens in life and we may find ourselves parted from our children, whether through work, divorce, illness or whatever else.

In those circumstances it’s vital we look for ways to get back together, as soon as possible and reconnect, repairing any bonds.

If not, our children could look elsewhere for comfort and support and may turn to the wrong people or past times in our absence.

As parents, we sometimes worry that we won’t get parenting right. Believing that someone else such as a partner, grandparent, aunty, foster carer, child-minder, nursery worker or teacher will do a better job of loving or raising our children the right way.

The truth is, no one could ever do a better job than you can, at loving your child.

It’s not what happens in life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.

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 chink in the chain of love that connects us.

The truth is, no one could ever do a better job than you can, at loving your child.

Disagreements will always occur in loving relationships but if we take action to resolve things as soon as possible, and are willing and able to work through issues with our children, we strengthen our bonds. 

We can’t just set aside an hour a day as part of the U URSELF routine, to show our children how much we love them, then forget to maintain that connection for the other twenty-three hours of the day.

It’s constant connections that keep bonds strong.

Work, bills and other daily worries won’t disappear. They will always be there demanding our attention, but without time and energy, those loving bonds could gradually start to dissolve over time. The good news is, bonds are harder to make than they are to break, and fortunately being related instantly bonds us to our children.

We just have to Stay Present!

Us Time

CLEANING IS CLUTTER

If those visitors are important in our lives, then they won’t mind we prioritise spending time with our children over a tidy house sometimes.

In my experience, dust never disappears, but our children’s youth does.

There’s always going to be laundry in the basket, dishes in the sink and dust on the TV.

Quite simply, as long as we are alive it never ends, so we needn’t feel the housework has to be done before we spend time with our children. I know its embarrassing when an unexpected visitor turns up and the house is a mess, but living life is more important than looking good to others. If those visitors are important in our lives, then they won’t mind we prioritise spending time with our children over a tidy house sometimes.

Our children will not always need us like they do now, but the time we spend with them today will make a big difference that will stay with them for a lifetime, unlike that worn-out jumper that always needs washing and ironing. 

Unlike that worn-out jumper that always needs washing and ironing. 

We can vacuum and polish, until our heart’s content when our children have grown up and flown the nest, admittedly we won’t have as much mess then, but who will we be keeping the house clean and tidy for?

An empty house is just a house, not a home.

Our homes are our family space to feel safe, relax and play in. Children need enough space for playing with their toys and belongings. Sometimes games, puzzles, dolls, and figures need to be left out in order for them to pick up playing where they left off last. They don’t want a Feng Shuied bedroom, with books and toys neatly stored away like ornaments just to look at. That’s just a waste of money. Useless, unused boxes of toys gathering dust, just create more unnecessary cleaning. Toys that are loved and used often don’t gather dust, only memories.

Tidying and cleaning is best done little and often each day. The more prepared and on top of things we are, the more time we have to enjoy with our children. Knowing the importance of Us Time with our children, helps us to organize our time more effectively around our children’s needs.

They don’t want a Feng Shuied bedroom, with books and toys neatly stored away like ornaments just to look at.

Everything else in our life apart from our children is pointless clutter, even the cleaning.

Your Child is a gift, enjoy the Present!

Em x

SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

The Sun Has Got His Hat On- My Child Won’t Sleep, No Way!

Summers on its way, Yay!

But when the Sun has his hat on, then the children want to play!

For many parents of young children, this means sleepless or late nights, and early mornings.

ITS NOT FAIR

I remember my own two little ones complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger than them.

And questioning me why they had to go to bed, while the sun is still shining?

Often using guilt as their preferred tool of triumph, protesting;

‘I don’t want to go to bed, it’s not fair, the sun is still out.’


I remember my own two little ones complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger than them.

But I was confident that, keeping to their bedtime routine was good for them. That’s how I managed to remain calm and stay strong and persevere.

It was hard though, I must admit.

But had I felt guilty and uncertain, I may have succumbed and given in, allowing them to stay up a little later?

That would have been a BIG mistake!

If we succumb to our childrens guilt trips, and move the goal posts just once, we can expect our children to make us move them even further the next time, as they try to find out how far they can push things in their favour?

Guaranteed, next time, they will use that as their trump card.

So, prepare yourself for most childrens favourite phrase, you know, the one that makes most parents cringe in annoyance at themselves of;

‘It’s not fair, you let me yesterday, why not today?’  

To which, no parent can ever find a justifiable explanation.

So, we either end up giving into them once again, creating another unwanted habit, that’ll be hard to break?

Or, we become annoyed and upset with ourselves, for giving in to them in the first place?

Resulting in a no win for us parents! 

REVELLING IN THE RESULTS

That’s why, it’s best to persevere and stay strong from the outset.

If we can persevere with routines until we get the results we want, then life will become much easier for ourselves, as well as our children.

Other parents and their children, (such as those playing outside at bedtime) may take a different approach?


You will be responsible for your children, no one else’s!

And that’s fine for them.

After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for their own childrens health and well -being and managing their own childrens behaviour.

But you will be responsible for your children, no one else’s.

Focusing on the most beneficial, proactive approach, that’s suitable for you and your child is always best.

This I may add, is not the easiest approach initially. But I promise, long term you’ll be revelling in the results.

KEEP IT POSITIVE

It’s a good idea to keep a good balance between, the positive reasons for following the routine, and the negative reasons for not. This means, if our children refuse to go to bed, we can point out the positive reasons why they should, and highlight the negatives of staying awake.

 A typical example could sound something like this;

‘Go to sleep now Sam or else you will be too tired to play with your friends at nursery tomorrow, and that won’t be any fun. And don’t forget that you’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame when you go to the park with Granddad in the afternoon too! But you won’t be able to if you are too tired. And I know you are really excited to do all that so, the sooner you go to sleep, the quicker tomorrow will come, and you can show him how high you can climb.’


You’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame.

Always try to end on a positive.

This may seem like a long -winded way to say;

 ‘Go to sleep!’

But it’s the quickest and most effective way in the long run.

Highlighting the positives and negatives, encourages our children to want to follow routines, a lot more than just telling them to comply or else.

Providing an explanation helps them to know, exactly why it benefits them and why we want them to go to sleep?

Routines then make sense.

And when they make sense to our children, the sun may have his hat on, but our children will try to sleep anyway!

Your Child is a Gift, Enjoy the Present!

Proactive Parenting

Did Your Child Get a Space at the School You Wanted?

Yippee School Admissions Time!

It’s that time of year when, we discover if our little ones have got a place in the preferred school, we’ve chosen for them.

As I chatted to a friend at the school gates last week, who was devastated her child didn’t get into the primary school his siblings attended, I felt her pain.

I remember that dreaded anticipation myself many years ago!

Would my first born get a space in the School, I perceived to be the best in the area we lived in at that time?

Oh, the joy when I finally received that letter telling us she had got a place.

Off we went excitedly to buy her new school uniform. Such a proud first moment was her first day at school.

Then I had to relive all that stress, anxiety and worry once again two years later, when my Sons turn came to find out if he had a place?

The sleepless nights and despair I felt when I discovered that the catchment area boundaries had changed, and a new Welsh School which was opened within twenty feet of our house, threatened his place in his Sisters school, which we all loved because, I hate to honestly admit it, but all the parents seemed affluent and the learning league table for results was high.

On top of that, the school was rated a green for very good. The rating system was based on four colour coded categories; green, yellow, amber and red, this colour coding was to demonstrate how much support the schools needed. But relying on that colour system would have been pointless because that all soon changed anyway, as the School colours slipped down when the headteacher changed, something not too uncommon for lots of schools.

Again, the relief, when I received that letter saying my Son had a place in his Sisters school was exhilarating.

I wanted to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’

DOUBTS FEARS & TEARS

Yet looking back, there was no reason to celebrate, and all that stress, worry and anxiety was for nothing, as I removed my children half way through primary school, from that much sought- after, Welsh Medium School, to an English Medium School, (nothing to do with the language may I add).

Initially when I chose the Welsh School, I was happy with that decision.  A few years later that decision no longer felt like the right thing for my children, leaving me to make the proactive decision of changing their schools.

A lot of parents felt the same way as me at the time, and also wanted to remove their children, but they didn’t as they were fearful how it would affect them.

I on the other hand feared how keeping my children in their current school would affect them?

But it was a decision I needed help with, so I proactively involved my children in the decision-making process, every step of the way.

This took a lot of the pressure off me to make the decision and gave them a choice.

My Daughter was keen to change schools, my Son however, was not so keen.

I asked them both to individually list the pros and cons for staying in their old school and moving to the new school. This was discussed verbally, then I drew up a pros and cons list (putting it in writing helped us all to physically see the outcome.) Both children had more pros for moving and more cons for staying put.


list the pros and cons

The decision was made instantly based on those lists.

I didn’t dwell on it or give them time to worry about the consequences, I took immediate action and within a week, they had both moved to a new school.

Today they are now in High School, but they have never regretted moving schools and the only affects it had on them at the time, were positive.

They’ve made great best friends that otherwise they would never have met and are both confident and sociable, and despite joining a new school mid-way through their primary years, their academic ability has soared. 

Children are much more resilient than we give them credit for, it’s us as parents that have the doubts, fears and tears, not our children.

PARENTAL INTUITION

The initial idea to change schools came from my own parental intuition. I could have taken the easy option and ignored what I felt. I could have found many excuses to keep them in their old school but that would have kept me reactive as a parent, not proactive.

I probably would have been complaining to the school over issues that I was unhappy with for years, and would have always wondered, what if they had gone to a different school? 

Proactivity quashes regrets before they fester.

Feeling confident to take -action, comes from that parental intuition that we all have, which arises from knowing and loving our children. 

This insight is invaluable to tune into, as it helps us to know how our children will respond to certain people, events, or situations in advance. This gives us time to take the necessary steps, in order to avoid situations turning out undesirably.

Fortunately, this proactive approach arising from instinct or intuition, is something we naturally do as parents, most of the time anyway.

Although my Husband and I made the right choice in moving our children to a different school, and both of our children excelled in their new school, none of us regret them having gone to the old school.

My children made some great friends there (as did I, I’m still friends with some fab parents from their old primary school today)

And my children also learnt how to speak Welsh fluently at a young age (which I’ve no doubt is the reason they do so well in this subject now, as its now a compulsory GCSE subject in my Children’s English Medium High School.)

In addition, my children learnt how to change and adapt to new circumstances, build on their self- confidence and form new relationships, all invaluable skills to learn at a young age.

ACCEPTANCE

We all learn from experimentation and experience.

That’s why nothing happens in vain. When we view any experience, circumstance or relationship this way, we free ourselves from worry, stress and anxiety. Its all a learning opportunity. This helps us to accept what is, even if what is, isn’t what we want!

As parent’s, we need to accept that we won’t always make the right choices or decisions all of the time. And that’s ok, because we can, and will learn from all of them, good or bad along the way.

As long as we keep moving, we will make progress and rid ourselves of paralysis by analysis. By doing what we can, we can feel confident in the knowledge that we are always doing our best.


Its all a learning opportunity.

We will then be free to relax knowing that, we cannot control everything that happens to our children.

And this is a good thing, because we cannot learn everything for them, there will be times when they will have to learn for themselves, often the hard way.

Therefore, the most proactive thing that we can all do as parents, is to decide today to stop worrying about our children’s; behaviour, education, health, happiness, safety, success or whatever else is worrying us at the moment, and take- action to do something about it.

If its out of our control and we can’t do anything about the outcome or circumstances, as in the case of not getting a space at a preferred school for our child, then acceptance is the only choice we really have. This means letting go of the illusions of how perfect that school would have been, and how our children have lost out. There’s no loss, as they never had that space to begin with. There’s no loss, as there are alternatives, and alas, other schools that could end up being just as good, if not even better in the long run?

We can only do the best we can do, at any given moment in time, with the knowledge, experiences and resources we have at that time.

Circumstances change and so do we.

My priorities and perspective on my childrens initial primary school changed. So did the influential people at that school, and the school’s performance and colour coding. Had I known all that years ago, then I wouldn’t have worried for a second whether my children got a space at that school or not?

You may be experiencing joy and exhilaration, as you open that envelop that says your child has a place at your preferred school?

Or you may have doubts, fears and tears, as you hear your child has not been accepted?

But fear not, things are not always as bad as they seem. And years from now, like me, you may look back with relief, that actually, what you thought your child was denied, was in fact the best thing that could have happened?

Stay Present,

Em x

Proactive Parenting

Proactive Parenting Prevents Panic!

What exactly is Proactive Parenting?

It sounds like a word you would find in business books, that’s because it is.

I’ve found that we have to approach parenting sometimes, like running a successful business, if we want to be a success at it and produce successful children.

After all, our children are our business.

We can’t leave how they turn out to chance, or allow anyone else to take credit or responsibility for who they become either. As parents we have the most power and control to influence them, and if we do so positively, we will end up with happy, healthy and successful children.

Simply put, being proactive is taking action in advance, and pre-emp-ting our children’s moves and emotions. In essence, its hands-on parenting.

A lot of us parents are reactive.

We react to situations and our children’s behaviour in the moment. Now I’m an advocate of what I call ‘Present Parenting’, which is all about living in the present moment and being conscious of the time we spend with our children, but what I witness on a daily basis is far from that.

I see parents reacting unconsciously, out of habit, to unwanted behaviour and situations, usually fuelled with emotions.

As busy parents its hard not to react this way, but as proactive parents, we want to prevent those circumstances arising in the first place.

I know it’s hard not to get upset and angry with our children sometimes, but we can lessen the chances of that happening by, pre-empting problems before they affect our children and planning ahead in advance. Taking -action to prevent problems, as opposed to dealing with them or reacting once they have occurred.

It’s thinking ahead of situations and how they may affect our children, and being sensitive to their individual needs and emotions. 

This approach enables us to take steps to make things easier, not only for our children, but ourselves too. Helping us to feel more organised and in control, and as a result, increases our self- confidence.

Resulting in a lot less stress for everyone.

As a childminder, caring for children varying in ages, from eleven months to eleven years and over, being proactive is a necessity.

I have to be one step ahead at all times, as a matter of health and safety.

A simple day out at the beach, can be like a military operation.


A simple day out at the beach, can be like a military operation.

But always, all the children know;

  • How I expect them to behave?
  • What will we do before, during and after our visit?
  • What to do if there’s a problem, such as someone goes missing or is lost.

Thankfully and lucky enough, that has never happened to a child I care for (other than my own).

But if it did or should it do so in the future, I know I would have told all the children what to do in the event of that happening.

It’s not being paranoid or overly anxious, it’s being proactive.

Now you may only have one child to care for, so may not feel a back-up plan necessary on an outing?

But there’s been numerous times where I have found many lost toddlers, wandering around a supermarket in tears, while their parents are frantically searching for them.

It happens every -day.

A simple; ‘If you can’t find me, go straight to the security guard on the door dressed like a policeman’ Helps reduce this stress, and prevents our children crying to a random stranger or wandering out to the car park to find us, where, different danger could present itself.

I say this because it happened to me with my own child, when they were younger. And I don’t want it to happen to you, if you can avoid it.

I can still feel that panic as I realised, I didn’t know where my child was, what they were doing or who they are with?

As a parent, I bet you can imagine that feeling now?

It’s a sinking, sick feeling of impending doom and disaster, as a whole host of catastrophic images flash through your mind.

Then relief suddenly washes over you, as you spot them holding hands with a lovely lady, who’s helping them search for you.

While your little one’s innocently smiling, clutching at a bag of sweets that had tempted them to wander off!

Stay Present,

Em x

Behaviour

Team Work Makes the Parenting Dream Work!



Team work really does make the parenting dream work.

My children’s Primary school had the perfect motto and that is; TEAM.

Which stands for – Together Everyone Achieves More. You could really feel the sense of that message resonating with staff and pupils.

When we feel part of a team, we feel like we are all in it together, to help and support one another. This is important to bear in mind, that we are on the same side, when Coaching our children’s behaviour. 

Working together makes you both stronger, happier, healthier and more successful.

Parenting is not a battle of us against our children or vice versa.

Neither should there be any competition between parents, there’s no good cop, bad cop. It takes both parents, as well as any other carers who are involved in our children’s life, to come together and agree on rules and routines.

If not, our children will become confused, angry or upset, and eventually they will end up playing us off against each other.

This tactic is the most common cause of parent’s arguing with one another. Therefore, we need to join and stand together as a team. Remaining consistent, firm and fair together.


This tactic is the most common cause of parent’s arguing with one another.

Making sure that everyone who cares for our children does the same, by sticking to the rules and routines that we expect our children to follow.

This team effort approach ensures, we are all on the same side, working towards the same goals. But what happens when the team breaks down due to divorce or separation?

SINGLE PARENTS

I have found it common for parents who have recently split up, to turn to their children for comfort, allowing them to stay up later or bed share with them, saying that their children are feeling insecure and need them. In most cases the truth is, the newly single parent needs the child to need them, as they are feeling rejected or sad. There’s nothing wrong with needing some love when we are feeling low, as long as we know what is happening and why?

And we also understand that it’s not our children’s fault when we find happiness again or decide we no longer want them to stay up late or bed share with us, and we try to change that.

Now I’m not picking on single parents here. I admire them most, (I myself grew up in a one parent family without my Mum) as they have to do all this parenting routine stuff alone, often with little or no support. But I couldn’t help but notice that when some parents split up, a competitive game can ensue between the two.

I have heard that children always suffer when parents use them in their games (really this is a game no one ever really wins) but if anyone, I’ve found children are the only ones who really ever win at this game, as they learn how to play one parent off against the other.

Parents wanting to be the ‘Best Parent’ often give in to their children, and that normally means allowing them to stay up late, eat treats and have gifts for no reason. Routine especially falls by the wayside, when the absent parent, who only has limited time such as weekends to spend with their child, wants to; ‘make the most of their time together’.

The poor parent who spends most of their time with the child tirelessly providing a routine, then has to suffer the rest of the time with a tired child who prefers their other parent, as they do more fun things and give them what they want.  If you are at the receiving end of this from an ex- partner and parent to one of your children, then as a proactive parent you have to address it. This is a stressful situation as the other parent may use this against you. You may worry they might deliberately go against your wishes and flout your routines as a way of getting you back for past hurts.


They have to do all this parenting routine stuff alone, often with little or no support.

It’s likely they may try? On the other hand, they may be totally unaware of the problems they are causing and may well apologise and try to help you. They may have only been doing it out of genuine misguided love for your child, and wanting to spend quality time with them?

Or they may have tried to compensate, out of guilt for not being around as much anymore?

In either instance, your child’s health and happiness is what’s most important. If in any doubt suggest they read this blog post or drop them the link, so you are both on the same page.

By creating one team, we also get our children on side too. They won’t enjoy being the only person in a team against many for long. Eventually learning to get along with everyone, and playing by the rules and routines, will become their goal too.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have family and friends living close by and there’s probably more single parents today than married. As we’ve seen in the news recently with Cheryl Tweedy hinting that she would like another child solo, there’s also those choosing to parent alone. But a A strong network of family and the support of friends and other carers, including teachers, will help to build a winning team together. Creating the foundations that will become our children’s greatest support and security in life. Providing a safe base to turn to, where they can rely on consistency, familiarity and comfort.

Our children knowing that, everything we do is for their own sake, not for our own, and knowing we’re are not trying to spoil their fun but help them, is key to getting them on side

This helps them to see that we’re all united, and have rules and routines for good reason, for their happiness, security, health and safety. Rules and routines help us to communicate with our children positively and effectively, whilst they are learning how to connect and communicate with us, and others.

Stay Present,

Em x

Behaviour, Routine

Parenting Peace at Easter

Why do you throw rocks before you, the path ahead is smooth?’ A wise Sage once said, he must have been describing parenthood?

Old Habits Die Hard

Habits can work for or against us.

When it comes to routines in our children’s lives such as brushing their teeth, going to school and sleeping and eating at a set time, these are all good for our children.

They are in essence healthy habits.

Even if they fight it, all children need and like the predictability that routines offer. But routines are also good for us parents too.

Routine’s help to eliminate uncertainty, stress and unnecessary arguing with our children, while giving 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 are able to plan ahead and pre-empt things ahead of time.

That’s why routines are such effective and valuable parenting tools.

They make it easy for us parents to deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour, when followed consistently, on a daily basis.

For example, if our children have had enough sleep, we can rule out them being tired when they misbehave or get upset. But if we know that they have not had enough sleep, then we will be able to see where the problem lies.

Routines also help us to proactively pre-empt beforehand, our children’s likely behaviour. Helping us to better plan and accommodate for those times when there have been interferences in their routines. For example, if we know they have not had their nap, we can avoid taking them to soft play until after they have had a nap.

Having this knowledge helps us limit a lot of unnecessary upset, for not only our children but for ourselves too. Over time with a consistent approach to routines, our children becoming over tired, hungry, bored or over stimulated, will be almost eliminated, as routine’s will meet those needs in advance, before it’s too late.

Also, by offering our children food before they are hungry or by putting them down for a nap before they desperately need one, we help them to feel understood, cared for and content. This prevents tears and tantrums for both ourselves as well as our children, 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.


When we find our children’s behaviour bad, it’s usually because we are trying too hard

Even when we have solid, well established routines in place, our children will still push those boundaries along with our patience. But parenting needn’t feel like a constant battle or struggle.

What if there was an easier way to control our children’s behavior, without being a controlling parent?

Easy does it!

When children are proving hard to control, the easy path often seems …. well …. too easy!

So, we dismiss it as an option and carry on the hard way out of habit.

This is when habits can work against us and become bad.

But when we find our children’s behaviour bad, it’s usually because we are trying too hard.

End the Battle & Win the War

One long summer school holiday (you know, the ones that seem to go on for ever, or you soon will!) A Mum came to see me in despair, saying she had lost control of her children and didn’t know how to get it back?

She felt as though she was, (in her own words);

‘Fighting against them in a constant battle about everything, and feeling defeated all the time.’

My advice which surprised her, was to go along with her children whenever she felt totally powerless, and to see what happened?


I wasn’t suggesting she leave her children to their own devices, and let them walk all over her, encouraging them to take advantage of her apathy. I just wanted her to accept and allow their demands temporarily, while she regained her confident, composure and sense of authority and self.


While she regained her confident, composure and sense of authority and self.


This was to show her children she was not accepting their behaviour powerlessly. Instead, she was showing them that she didn’t mind either way how they behaved.

This reversed psychological approach, not only confused her children somewhat, but as intended, it equipped her to deal with their behaviour.

POWERFUL PARENTS

There was no more struggle.

Instead of feeling powerless and beaten, she was able to manage normally challenging situations, easily.

By her thinking that she was choosing how to feel, she felt empowered, rather than feeling powerless.


Feeling powerless suggests, there’s isn’t a choice how to act or feel, and nothing one can do.  

The truth is, there’s always a choice and parents are never powerless. We have all the power, all the time.

I assured her that her children would soon get fed up of misbehaving, once they realised, she did not care and they weren’t getting any attention for their behaviour.

PEACE AT LAST

What she soon noticed was, her children had stopped wanting or asking for the things that previously she was not allowing them. By her not disallowing her children the things they wanted, the battle was over.


They hadn’t won the war though, because really, they didn’t want those things they were fighting for in the first place. All they were interested in was the battle. So, she ended up peacefully winning the war.

SIBLING RIVALRY

If its not us battling our children in a war of wills, then its our children fighting with one another. Nothing drives parents more crazier, than refereeing their own children. You love them all equally but when they are squabbling with one another, its hard to be calm, collected and fair.

The temptation is to blame one child, usually the elder as they should know better or tell them all off, even if one child is innocent. The secret to this common parenting dilemma is, learning to go with the flow more (as in the previous example, where the Mum let go of control) as we practice the Art of Intervention.


If its not us battling our children in a war of wills, then its our children fighting with one another.

The Art of Intervention

We are not ignoring their petty bickering; we are merely being a silent observer, intervening only when absolutely necessary.

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 their 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. 

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 as they 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 over stepped 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 with -out adult interference, so if it’s not our battle, then we don’t need to fight.

Going with the flow means allowing peace and acceptance. We may not associate the two with parenting? But they are utmost, when it comes to moulding desirable behaviour in our children.

What- ever our children do or don’t do, we can still feel at peace in ourselves.

Wishing you all a peaceful Easter, until next time,

Stay Present,

Em x

Routine

Help it’s the School Easter Holidays!

Children all over the country are jumping for joy. Schools out for Easter, YIPEE!!!!

Or maybe ‘No way!!!?’ If you’re a parent crying into your coffee?

Its not that we don’t want to spend time with our delightful cherubs, eating chocolate eggs and playing the days away. It’s just we know how difficult its going to get after day three, when the sun stops shining and we’ve run out of art and crafts/ films/ books and things in general to entertain them.

And if you’re fortunate enough to have more than one little cherub to love and entertain, then you know that sibling rivalry and warfare will ensue. In this blog this week, we’ll cover entertainment, next week we’ll tackle sibling rivalry and staying sane.

Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. So, with their normal routine disrupted, if we just try to leave them to get on with it, they’ll probably misbehave in order to grab our attention. Partly because they just won’t know what to do, other than get hypnotized by a screen or digital device. Believe it or not children actually like being told what to do? It’s usually they way we go about telling them that’s the issue, not the instructions themselves.

School and childcare are great for our children because it gives them a structure to their day, which is broken up into various activities. They are also in the company of others their own age and they know what is expected of them, when and where and more importantly why?

At home through the holidays, this all goes out the window. They wake up too early or too late. They eat treats and snacks at various times of the day. If they have siblings they bicker, if they don’t have other siblings, they are alone or in adult company, which soon gets boring. Often, they lack the physical and mental exercise, as they’re not running around the playground or walking on the school runs, or stretching their brains. Meaning that at bedtime they are not tired and end up going to bed later, as there’s no school the next day. After a few days they don’t enjoy spending time with us as much, because the novelty has worn off, and our nagging is irritating us as much as them.

But stress not, there are ways to ease all this.

Following (and also in next week’s blog post) you’ll find a few pointers to restore some balance, keep them happily busy, keep you sane and help you regain your composure these hols.

Keep to Routine

Our childrens Routines are simply their everyday activities such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time.


Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour.

Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic and confusing world. Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour. If our children don’t know what is expected of them, when or why? They get confused, angry and upset.

It scares them not knowing when or what to do, or not to do as the case maybe? 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 they become an automatic habit is best.

Once they are in the habit of say, having their tea at 4.30pm and going to bed at 7.30pm, let’s not break those healthy habits because it’s the school holidays.

If we do break them then, re-establishing that routine again when they return to school won’t be easy!

US Time

It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.

Although, generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.

That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US- Time’ for each individual child, by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time. One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, they’ll be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’. Maybe the child who doesn’t enjoy football  can stay at a friends for a few hours, while you take the other child who enjoys football to the match?

But also try to find some common ground, family Us Time together is still important and finding things we all like to do, is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and can see where everyone’s preferences lie. So get all those individual lists together, including your own, and plan to do those things you all enjoy together, alongside individual Us Time.

But Us Time is not all about doing a certain activity or going anywhere in particular, it’s about being together. What’s most important is that you enjoy each others company and look forward to spending it together.

However, there are times when we all need some alone time too.

All children with time can grow to enjoy their own company, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so and receive adequate US Time, with us.

We’ll soon discover that after adequate Us Time that, our children soon bore of us and demand our attention less, naturally stepping back a bit, and giving us the space we need for U Time.

U Time

U time is exactly that, time just for YOU.

The truth is, even if we could give our children  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. We need to clearly communicate the importance of time just for ourselves to them, in a way that stops them from feeling rejected.

We can do this by explaining that, we won’t be able to devote time just for them later to do whatever activity they want to do with us, if we don’t finish what we need to do first.

We have to let them know in no uncertain terms, that we expect them to leave us alone to get on with it. Our children need more than a playmate from us, they rely on us for everything, including their clean clothes. So finding time to do chores, as well as time to pursue our personal goals is vital.

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 towards 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. 

Sometimes we can fall into the parenting trap, of being so focused on our children that, we lose the desire to pursue our own dreams and ambitions.

If this sounds like you, then now would be a good time to list as many things as you can in ten minutes that you would like to do, if only you had more time. This is where writing your own list, when getting your children to write their lists for Us Time, is also handy for some U Time ideas and inspiration.

This will give you the clarity you need to discover what it is that you really want to do?

This list is not to include things such as spring cleaning your children’s bedrooms; this is the time to list those things that will make you happy when doing them, for no other reason than pure pleasure or relaxation.

Things like investing in a spa day, taking up windsurfing or whatever else happens to be your cup of tea. Try to be as adventurous as you can, but it’s not necessary. Even reading a book or going for a walk are great ways to spend time on you. All that matters is that it’s something for ‘You’ that ‘You’ really want to do.

MY U TIME LIST

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  
  5.  
  6.  
  7.  
  8.  
  9.  
  10.  

Having things to do that you look forward to will keep you balanced and refreshed, so don’t neglect U Time.

This will help provide some free alone time for our children to ponder and daydream, but it’s also a good idea to plan some activities to occupy them too, until they learn the skill of occupying themselves.

Free Play

Over the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.

Now, experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.

This is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and joy.

When we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative or positive attention seeking behaviours. 

Give them the props, materials and resources, and leave them to it. A bowl of water in the garden and some plastic cups, never ceases to entertain little ones. Or some junk household recycling, can be used to build and create any number of things from their imagination.

Its not about technology or toys or going to expensive softplay areas or days out, an afternoon in the garden or trip to the local park is just as good. School holidays needn’t be expensive, the best things in life really are free.

However, If you have children of varying ages, or you want to keep them happily entertained for longer, a little intervention or guidance and some structure can be good.

Finding ways to stretch an activity, as well as their imagination and concentration is useful. Like suggesting they paint a treasure map and write a short story to go with it, while writing some clues to find hidden treasure for us to find, that they can make from junk materials such as bottles and boxes or play dough. This can extend an activity and prolong their interest and creativity.

Sometimes we can give our children too much choice and this can overwhelm them. We may think that by giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we are keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.

If we follow their every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?’


No sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?

Leaving us exhausted and frazzled by the end of the day, as they un-contentedly and continuously flit from one activity to another.

Adding interest to an activity as in the above treasure map suggestion helps, but sometimes, we have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.

Until next week, enjoy the hols, stay sane, Stay Present,

Em x

Uncategorized

Who Actually Gets Paid More A Footballer Or A Mathematician?

What a boring world it would be if we all liked doing the same things, the same way?

Without variety and differences conversation would soon dry up.

Yet we still expect our children to endure subjects that just don’t interest them.

One day I believe or should that be, I hope, the school curriculums will include more variety and options. Offering more choice for children, especially for those who aren’t naturally academic, to enjoy their learning, doing things that inspire and motivate them.

Hidden Talents

A lot of current issues that are happening on our streets today concerning children and crime, I believe, are due to children not feeling unique and special as they are, with the abilities they’ve been given. A lot of children don’t realise their true potential or hidden talents because they haven’t been given the chance to discover them. Many children feeling overlooked or rejected by a school system that makes them feel less than what they really are.

Times have changed and the way we teach and treat our children needs to change too.

We have to be more creative in our approach. Allowing for more sporting and artistic talents to be a part of the school curriculum, giving them equal emphasis and recognition as the more traditional core subjects.

I mean who actually gets paid more, a footballer or a mathematician?

You do the math? (I was never good at that subject in school…oops… Thanks to Mr Jones, there pops up my biggest self-limiting belief again!!!)


life is about being happy and healthy, not unhappy and wealthy!

Not all children aspire to be in intellectual careers.

Most just want to enjoy what they do using their hands and creativity, such as flower arranging, making fancy cupcakes or building impressive structures, such as those that house schools. Life is about being happy and healthy, not unhappy and wealthy. Money and future aspirations aside, its about how our children are experiencing life right now at school.

All the GCSE’S in the world, won’t empower our children in the future and make them happy. In today’s world they aren’t even a guarantee of job security either.

Happiness is a state of being cultivated from a young age.

We come to expect what we get and get what we expect as we grow older.

Happy optimistic children, who follow their own dreams and enjoyment, succeed and find rare opportunities, that are otherwise hidden from those clutching at hard earned grades, who settle for a safe job for the sake of money, in fear of failure or lack.

Some children just can’t stand sitting in a classroom, memorising facts that are of no relevance to them. However, this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taught these subjects, alongside the things they do enjoy learning.

We just have to find more interesting ways, to make those subjects that they dislike, more enjoyable. We can start by fuelling their passion. Encouraging them in those areas they enjoy and are good at, and by finding each child’s preferred learning method. Some simply prefer a more hands on approach rather than theory.

After all, life is about putting learning into practice. Little use knowing what to do but not knowing how to do it, is there?

So, money and future aspirations aside, lets focus on the present and on how our children are experiencing life right now.

Stay Present,

Em x

Uncategorized

What Will You Be Doing This Mother’s Day?

Mothering Sunday is days away.

A chance to spoil our Mums if we are lucky, or remember them and all the good times they gave us if they are no longer with us.

But its also a time for us to get spoilt too!

Even if its only breakfast in bed, time to relax in a bath full of bubbles, read a good book in the garden or buy ourselves a new outfit.

Its the simple things in life that mean the most!

If you’re a MUM it’s time for YOU!

U COME FIRST

You not only deserve this time for yourself but your child does too.

 ‘You’ are the most important person in your child’s life.

Anyone who has ever flown on an aeroplane will be familiar with the safety drill, where the Stewardess asks you to make sure you put on your own safety vest and masks, before your children’s or anyone else’s.

Taking care of ‘You’ is a priority because if you don’t, then you won’t be able to care for your child or anyone else.

Yet many of us selfless Mums still think it’s ok to put the needs of others, especially our children’s, before our own.

We are not being selfish by taking care of our own needs before anyone else’s, it’s essential.

If we take care of our own needs and wellbeing and pursue our own interests, then not only our own happiness, health, and success will be positively affected but noticeably our children’s too.

Nothing beats a good book and a bath!

A happy Mum, equals a happy, contented child.

That’s why, we should never neglect or underestimate the importance of time for ourselves.

LET’S BEGIN

And there’s no time like the present!

We needn’t wait for Mother’s Day, right now is as good a time as any to begin. So, before we go any further grab a notebook, pen, and a cuppa and let’s start our U Time now by taking some time to reflect on how we would like to spend our special day this Sunday?

As they say;

‘No plan is a plan to fail!’

So, let’s write down some ideas and make it a concrete promise to ourselves.

Who else wants time just for themselves to;

  • Have a bath?
  • Read a book or magazine?
  • Watch a Film or Box Set?
  • Enjoy a glass of wine?
  • Go out for a meal?
  • Visit the cinema or an Art Gallery?
  • Go for a massage, manicure, facial or acupuncture?
  • Have a new Hair Style?
  • Go for a Makeover?
  • Take up a new hobby?
  • Start an Educational Course?
  • Write, Paint, Play an instrument or sing?
  • Work out at the gym?
  • Meditate or try Yoga?
  • Participate in a sport?
Relax it’s YOUR Special Day!

There are so many ways to make your day special, so start dropping those hints to your partners or children (if they are old enough) now. Give them time to arrange a treat you really want, because they know you’re worth it.

If you don’t have anyone able to treat you, then go treat yourself now.

Make that appointment, order that book, enrol in that course, or book that table for you and a friend.

MAKE EVERYDAY SPECIAL

U time doesn’t have to be reserved for special occasions such as Mother’s Day though.

We can make our whole life more enjoyable, if we use our time doing things that we like and want to do.

If we’re honest, doing anything other than that is a waste of our precious time.

It’s pointless only ever enjoying time for yourself just because its Mother’s Day, and enduring 364 days of tending to the needs and desires of everyone else.

It’s like living for the weekend to arrive or our summer holidays, in order to relax and be happy.

This just robs us of the opportunity to live and enjoy life to the fullest.


It’s living less than half a life.

Let’s meditate on that for a moment.

If we could only plan our lives like we do Christmas or our summer holidays, then all that attention to detail, time, energy, money, and motivation to make it good, would create a fabulous life.

Decide now not to reserve those fun times for special occasions, celebrations or holidays.

It’s about enjoying and appreciating every day, including those ordinary boring days like today, when nothing extraordinary or special is happening…. just your life!

Your time is the present, Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Birthday Dylan

I have to thank you Dylan. You were easy from the start.

Easy conception, easy pregnancy, easy birth and easy to love.

Today on this special 13th birthday, celebrating you becoming a teenager, 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 and busy.

You taught me how to enjoy being a mum. And how to appreciate every minute as special.

Your love makes 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.

A great 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.

Even now, you still greet me on the school yard every day with a kiss, hug, pat on the back and a ‘I love you.’

I know I’ve said you don’t need to do that in public now, in case it’s embarrassing?

And you said ‘No I want to. It’s not embarrassing’.

And I melt inside with pride, that you are not afraid to openly show your love.

I don’t know what I have done to deserve such beautiful, loving children but I’m glad I’ve be blessed with you both.

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.

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.

Time 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. Always keep in mind, one day will be the last day you spend together.

There’s no time like the present, and no present like time!

Happy Birth- days!