ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, PLAY, Recreation

Half term holiday help!

LETTING GO OF CONTROL

Half term already? Feels like they’ve only been back to school five minutes!!!

As most of us in the UK are experiencing local lockdown many mums are feeling the anxiety of being stuck at home with the kids again. How are we going to keep them entertained, happy and under control?

Well the good news is we don’t have to control them at all.

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

We can do this by acknowledging 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.  

Take a deep breathe in … and breathe out … and …. RELAX

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.
Be Present but don’t control their play in any way.
  • 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.
They can paint the town red…all is well in your world.
  • 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. 

Happy Shopper!

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.

Happy half term 😉

Stay Present,

Em x

PLAY, Recreation, The U URSELF Routine

TIME TO PLAY

Lock down has been bitter sweet for many of us. One thing I know a lot of us working parents can relate to is for once- having time.

Time to do what we want such as spending time playing with the kids.

Walking in nature.

Reading, writing, crafting or cooking.

Time to reflect on who we are and what we do and why?

In essence, we’ve had time to play, be creative and indulge in those things normally we have no time to waste doing.

But for some we’ve had to continue to work on the front line and keep our country going, working harder than usual.  Whatever situation we found ourselves in during this strange time in our history, one thing is for sure, we’ve all felt a need to embrace some down time more and find ways to occupy ourselves and this is what most of us plan to hold onto leaving lock down when returning to our old lives.

Play is a word usually associated with children.

Adults work.

Children play.

But the benefits of play are ageless, the only question is, can we remember as grown-ups how to play?

JACK IN THE BOX

As a child, I had a toy called a ‘Jack in the Box. I loved nothing more than watching as a clown like head popped out to startle me. Despite expecting it, each time, I always felt surprised and delighted. It was simply fun.

Where did that joy of something so simple disappear to?

Where has all the excitement and anticipation in life gone?

Have we grown up and forgotten how to play and have fun for funs sake!

Play encourages laughter, which is well known for its healing and anti-aging properties, a useful side effect for us grownups. And if we enjoy physically active play, it can help keep us fit and healthy. Even non-physical activities release chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, which reduce stress and tension.

That’s why recreation (another grown up word for play) is part of the U URSELF Routine.  You can find out more about The U URSELF Routine by taking a look at an interview I had, with the Shelf Life Blog this week where I was asked some really great questions by the lovely Jo.

Or you could win a FREE signed book Giveaway! For The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child (where the routine is covered in detail)

As a thank you to my readers and followers, I’m giving away absolutely free a paperback copy of my book -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95, signed with a special message and sent to the person of your choice, anywhere in the UK, for the first 3 readers who purchase my paperback book- The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting from Amazon UK

Just email me emma@happychildcare.club and let me know;

* How long it took for the book -The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting to arrive, from the day you ordered until the day amazon delivered it to your home?

* That you’ve left a book review for The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting on Amazon UK

* Who you would like me to send -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95 to, including preferred name, special message and full address inc the postcode.

What a great baby shower gift for any new parent or simply a treat for yourself!

Winners will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on the 28/9/2020 Good Luck!

Or you can buy it today from Amazon above or these places below.

Recreation is vital because, when we take parenting too seriously, we miss out and deprive ourselves as much as our children of all the fun in life.

Life is meant to be fun!

If it doesn’t feel that way to you at the moment, then you’re not playing enough.

Indulging in frivolity when we are supposed to be working, however, can have negative connotations. Others may think we are immature or don’t take our work seriously. But if we stressed less and had more fun in work, we’d take fewer sick days off and look forward to going to work each day, resulting in more productivity. 

Children instinctively know how to play. They understand the benefits and enjoyment it brings, it’s their main priority in life.

It was once ours too, so why did we stop playing and having fun?

As grown-ups, have we shut that box closed so tightly, that we are now more afraid of what may not pop out, than what will?

We are all capable of having fun, we just have to entertain the idea of opening that box and learning how to play again.

We are all born to be creative and with our own unique talents. And there’s no better time to express them, was there something you once did or would like to do such as; playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, writing, crafts, tennis, martial arts, carpentry, or gardening?

Have fun, and don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been playing this week? Why not share your fun on social media and inspire other grown-ups too!

Until next week, Stay Present,

Em x

Image by ErikaWittlieb pasja1000 Anh Nguyễn Duy Alexandr Ivanov by StockSnap from Pixabay

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

Recreation, Us Time

ONLY BORING PEOPLE GET BORED

I’m sure many of Us Parents have heard that dreadful saying ‘I’m bored!’ since the children have been off school, over the past week or so?

The school summer holidays pose a real challenge for most of us, as we compile packed itineraries, lists and mind maps of where to go and what to do, to entertain our childrens endless wants and desires.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain. We did it every Sunday without fail but my brother and I never bored of it, in fact all week we look forward to it.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain.

Granted we only had 3 TV channels back then when I was a child, where children’s programmes were only aired for an hour at lunchtime. And we didn’t have computers or phones then, so I never felt as though I was missing out on my screen time. Walking up a mountain or playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Often, I hear ‘It’s boring we’ve been here before.’ when I take children out somewhere.  As though every trip should be somewhere new and exciting. I fear, Children are just losing their ability to entertain themselves and have fun naturally these days.

And childrens play places are cashing in at our expense. When I was a child a trip to the farm or zoo was a once a year treat, we were lucky to get a bag of sweets or a pencil with a rubber from the gift shop at the end of our visit. Now children expect expensive toys at the end of every day out. It’s not our childrens fault these venues strategically place the gift shop full of toys, at the end of an attraction where we must walk our children through to leave.

But the result is, as parents, we no longer feel a fun family day out is good enough, when our children are clutching onto a fifty-pound toy, demanding they want it!

We know that we can get the same toy half the price from the supermarket, but we also know, all our children will remember is how horrible we were for denying them that toy, not all the fun we had having a picnic next to the peacocks!

WHATS NEXT?

Its vital children have the chance to relax and unwind, this doesn’t mean sleeping. Stimulation overload is a very real problem facing our children, affecting their mental health. Encouraging them to listen to relaxing music, read a book or comic and take time to daydream is vital. Most children today see this as being bored but there’s a lot of benefits to boredom.

As parents we are so busy in our own lives, we feel guilty when we are not providing busyness for our children, but what we all need and crave is time out from this busyness. One Monday morning about twelve years ago, I remember asking a parent how her weekend had been, here’s how she replied.

‘Friday after school I took the children to football and gymnastics, then Saturday morning they had karate, and in the afternoon, I took them swimming at that new pool with all the big slides, but they got bored after half hour so we ended up in the park. But then they had worked up an appetite so we went for a burger, then onto the cinema. I think they are getting too old for animated films now though, as they soon got bored mid- way and all they did was fight with one another then all evening. Then You’ll never guess what?’

One Busy Mum!

I shook my head in disbelief thinking, what there’s more?  

As she continued

‘Sunday, I found out they had a big homework project that took most of the day up, I’m just so tired, I can’t wait to get back to work today!’

One TIRED MUM!

Wow, Wow, Wow!

All that nonstop entertainment, time and expense and at the end of the day none of it made them happy.

What would I wonder?

Too much can be just as bad as not enough. This conversation took place many years ago but over the years I’ve found, children are becoming a part of ‘The What Next Generation?’ of dissatisfied children. An enjoyable picnic in the park is just never enough. Children seem to be asking their parents ‘what’s next?’ before they have even finished doing what they are currently doing.

Leaving most of us worn out, skint and frazzled by the end of the day!

There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, and the absence of a TV, mobile phone or computer, can make our children feel bored. Unfortunately, being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Children are so used to this type of stimulation they cannot play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they are bored. I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’

There’s more for children to do today, than any other time in history. There’s so much choice, variety, toys, opportunities, and experiences, it’s hard to believe that the word bored still exists in the English language.

Back in the Depression and Wartime days, children really did have nothing to play with, nowhere to go and little to do, yet they never seemed to get bored like the children of today do. They had no other option, they had to amuse themselves and they knew how to play and have fun naturally.

My children learnt early on, never to utter those words ‘I’m bored.’ As soon as they did, they knew I would find them a list of things to occupy them, such as cleaning jobs or homework.

On hearing what I had to offer to alleviate their boredom, they suddenly remembered they had lots to be getting on with and got on with it!

We help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics.

Ironically, we help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too.

This is probably something we will struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer or TV?

We’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!

Boredom would eventually disappear, however, and our children would come to realise all there is naturally around them. They may struggle at first to find things to do, but given the alternative, such as cleaning their bedroom, they would soon find something to do which is more fun.

What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?

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Esteem, Recreation

Does The Grass Have to be Greener?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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