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

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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