In my experience, dust
never disappears, but our children’s youth does.
There’s always going to
be laundry in the basket, dishes in the sink and dust on the TV.
Quite simply, as long as we are alive it never ends, so we needn’t feel the housework has to be done before we spend time with our children. I know its embarrassing when an unexpected visitor turns up and the house is a mess, but living life is more important than looking good to others. If those visitors are important in our lives, then they won’t mind we prioritise spending time with our children over a tidy house sometimes.
Our children will not always need us like they do now, but the time we spend with them today will make a big difference that will stay with them for a lifetime, unlike that worn-out jumper that always needs washing and ironing.
We can vacuum and polish, until our heart’s content when our children have grown up and flown the nest, admittedly we won’t have as much mess then, but who will we be keeping the house clean and tidy for?
An empty house is just a
house, not a home.
Our homes are our family
space to feel safe, relax and play in. Children need enough space for playing
with their toys and belongings. Sometimes games, puzzles, dolls, and figures need to be left out in order for them to pick up playing where they left off
last. They don’t want a Feng Shuied bedroom, with books and toys neatly stored
away like ornaments just to look at. That’s just a waste of money. Useless,
unused boxes of toys gathering dust, just create
more unnecessary cleaning. Toys that are loved and used often don’t gather
dust, only memories.
Tidying and cleaning is best done little and often each day. The more prepared and on top of things we are, the more time we have to enjoy with our children. Knowing the importance of Us Time with our children, helps us to organize our time more effectively around our children’s needs.
Everything else in our life apart from our children is pointless clutter, even the cleaning.
But when the Sun has his hat on, then
the children want to play!
For many parents of young children,
this means sleepless or late nights, and early mornings.
ITS NOT FAIR
I remember my own two little ones
complaining at bedtime, about the children playing outside in the street, younger
And questioning me why they had to go
to bed, while the sun is still shining?
Often using guilt as their preferred
tool of triumph, protesting;
‘I don’t want to go to bed, it’s not
fair, the sun is still out.’
But I was confident that, keeping to
their bedtime routine was good for them. That’s how I managed to remain calm and
stay strong and persevere.
It was hard though, I must admit.
But had I felt guilty and uncertain, I
may have succumbed and given in, allowing them to stay up a little later?
That would have been a BIG mistake!
If we succumb to our childrens guilt
trips, and move the goal posts just once, we can expect our children to make us
move them even further the next time, as they try to find out how far they can
push things in their favour?
Guaranteed, next time, they will use
that as their trump card.
So, prepare yourself for most childrens
favourite phrase, you know, the one that makes most parents cringe in annoyance
at themselves of;
‘It’s not fair, you let me yesterday,
why not today?’
To which, no parent can ever find a
So, we either end up giving into them
once again, creating another unwanted habit, that’ll be hard to break?
Or, we become annoyed and upset with
ourselves, for giving in to them in the first place?
Resulting in a no win for us parents!
REVELLING IN THE RESULTS
That’s why, it’s best to persevere and
stay strong from the outset.
If we can persevere with routines until
we get the results we want, then life will become much easier for ourselves, as
well as our children.
Other parents and their children, (such
as those playing outside at bedtime) may take a different approach?
And that’s fine for them.
After all, they are the ones who will
be responsible for their own childrens health and well -being and managing
their own childrens behaviour.
But you will be responsible for your
children, no one else’s.
Focusing on the most beneficial, proactive
approach, that’s suitable for you and your child is always best.
This I may add, is not the easiest
approach initially. But I promise, long term you’ll be revelling in the
KEEP IT POSITIVE
It’s a good idea to keep a good
balance between, the positive reasons for following the routine, and the
negative reasons for not. This means, if our children refuse to go to bed, we
can point out the positive reasons why they should, and highlight the negatives
of staying awake.
A typical example could sound something like this;
‘Go to sleep now Sam or else you will
be too tired to play with your friends at nursery tomorrow, and that won’t be
any fun. And don’t forget that you’re going to need plenty of sleep to give you
energy, so you can climb that big climbing frame when you go to the park with Granddad
in the afternoon too! But you won’t be able to if you are too tired. And I know
you are really excited to do all that so, the sooner you go to sleep, the
quicker tomorrow will come, and you can show him how high you can climb.’
Always try to end on a positive.
This may seem like a long -winded way
‘Go to sleep!’
But it’s the quickest and most
effective way in the long run.
Highlighting the positives and negatives, encourages our children to want to follow routines, a lot more than just telling them to comply or else.
Providing an explanation helps them to
know, exactly why it benefits them and why we want them to go to sleep?
Routines then make sense.
And when they make sense to our
children, the sun may have his hat on, but our children will try to sleep
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.
relief, when I received that letter saying my Son had a place in his Sisters
school was exhilarating.
to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’
DOUBTS FEARS &
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.
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.
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
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
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.
We all learn from experimentation and
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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.
But always, all the children know;
How I expect them to behave?
What will we do before, during and after our
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
As a parent, I bet you can imagine
that feeling now?
a sinking, sick feeling of impending doom and disaster, as a whole host of
catastrophic images flash through your mind.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
There was no more struggle.
Instead of feeling
powerless and beaten, she was able to manage normally challenging situations,
By her thinking that she
was choosing how to feel, she felt empowered, rather than feeling powerless.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
will give you the clarity you need to discover what it is that you really want
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
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.
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
experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as
possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.
is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear
real laughter and joy.
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
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.
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?’
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,
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.
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!!!)
Not all children aspire to be in
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
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.
If you’re a MUM it’s time for YOU!
You not only deserve this
time for yourself but your child does too.
‘You’ are the most important person in your
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
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
A happy Mum, equals a happy, contented child.
That’s why, we should
never neglect or underestimate the importance of time for ourselves.
no time like the present!
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
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?
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.
appointment, order that book, enrol in that course, or book that table for you
and a friend.
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.
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!
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
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
It’s a learning process full of doubts, tears
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 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
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,
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
There’s no time like the present, and no
present like time!