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

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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

Learning, Proactive Parenting

HOMEWORK FUN FOR EVERYONE!

Of course, we can make a cardboard dinosaur better than our five-year-old can, but where’s the fun in that, if they have to watch us?

Push our children to succeed or push them over the edge, it’s a fine line to tread?

Knowing how far to push them and when, is unique to each parent and child.

It’s something that intuitively and instinctively we come to know, the more proactive and involved we become in their learning and behaviour.

It’s natural we want our children to do well at school but if we become too involved and take -over, we miss the point of what the learning objective is.

Teachers also have a good understanding of our children’s ability, more than we do.

When children are set homework projects at school, the whole point of the exercise is for our children to learn something by doing it themselves. Hopefully while enjoying the process as much as they can.

As well-meaning parents, sometimes it can be hard to let our children do this for themselves and easier for us to do it for them.

Yes, maybe it does feel rewarding, watching our children parading our elaborate creations on the school yard?

And naturally, seeing how proud our children feel doing so, makes us feel good?

But do we want our children to feel proud of our efforts or their own?

Teachers want to see what the children can create and what they’ve learnt in the process, not what we are capable of. 

Teachers also have a good understanding of our children’s ability, more than we do. They’ll know that it’s our work not our children’s, if we produce an artistic masterpiece or solve an almost unsolvable equation.

It’s getting messy and having fun in the process that counts.

Of course, we can make a cardboard dinosaur better than our five-year-old can, but where’s the fun in that, if they have to watch us?

They don’t care how perfect it looks. It’s getting messy and having fun in the process that counts. We can still help if our children are finding something challenging, but stepping back at times maybe a good idea?

Sometimes, it can be possible to be a bit too present as parents!

Learning, Proactive Parenting

BORN LUCKY!

We are all born lucky, lucky to be alive.

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

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

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

It was you could say; lucky I was chosen?

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

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

PATIENCE BRINGS GOOD LUCK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a fifth P for us Parents too,

 Stay Present!

Proactive Parenting

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

Yippee School Admissions Time!

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

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

I remember that dreaded anticipation myself many years ago!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wanted to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’

DOUBTS FEARS & TEARS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


list the pros and cons

The decision was made instantly based on those lists.

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

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

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

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

PARENTAL INTUITION

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

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

Proactivity quashes regrets before they fester.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACCEPTANCE

We all learn from experimentation and experience.

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

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

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


Its all a learning opportunity.

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

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

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

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

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

Circumstances change and so do we.

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

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

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

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

Stay Present,

Em x

Proactive Parenting

Proactive Parenting Prevents Panic!

What exactly is Proactive Parenting?

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

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

After all, our children are our business.

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

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

A lot of us parents are reactive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resulting in a lot less stress for everyone.

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

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

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


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

But always, all the children know;

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

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

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

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

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

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

It happens every -day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Present,

Em x