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

Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, The U URSELF Routine

Watercress -The Super Salad

What’s so super about watercress then?

Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.

It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.

Stick to the watercress and forget the eggs please!!!

Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.

We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.

Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.

Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.

Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.

Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.

HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN

Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.

Such focus and concentration!

Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer. 

Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.

Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?

Or give this super summertime soup a go;

Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)

Even a child could make this soup with guidance its super simple!

You’ll need

A knob of butter

A stick blender

1 x large peeled and diced potato

1 x large leek finely chopped

A bunch of watercress

600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)

Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)

A generous grinding of black pepper

A dollop of double cream

Then let the cooking alchemy begin

Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.

Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.

Get your child involved in the preparation too its good for their self esteem, confidence and teaches them valuable life skills.
LOOKS LIKE A LOT OF WATER CRESS BUT IT SOON SHRINKS

Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.

(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)

Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.

Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.

This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.

So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.

FIBRE 2.1

CALORIES 29

PROTEIN 2.6

CARBS 2.5

TOTAL SUGARS 0.2

FAT 0.5

VITAMINS A, C, K

Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.

If you want to learn more about this underestimated but amazing super food and you like the facts and science behind food, then this is an interesting read,  find out more here https://www.thewatercresscompany.com/snapshot-of-researched-benefits

As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)

includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below

Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂

Until next time Stay Present, Stay Healthy,

Em x

Photo by Milada Vigerova silviarita Alexas_Fotos Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

home grown cucumber
Esteem, FOOD, HEALTHY EATING, Learning, Routine, The U URSELF Routine

MAKING FOOD FUN FOR CHILDREN

BOOSTING IMMUNE SYSTEM

Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.

Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.

There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.

ROUTINE

A good routine as always is key.  

Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.

Exercise.

You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.

KEEP THEM HYDRATED

Fruit infused water for a flavoured alternative!

Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.

NUTRTION

As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.

If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.

It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.

Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.

Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.

Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.

For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.

Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)

Our very own home grown wonky veg.

Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)

As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.

Bananas with benefits.

One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.

Make food fun!

The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!

GROW YOUR OWN

A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together. 

cucumber
We picked this cucumber today from our garden, grown in a basic grow bag which are available from most supermarkets or DIY Stores, no fancy green house or allotment or lots of space or money required, just add, water, love and sun as my husband says!

INVOLVE THEM

Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.

My daughter has always loved to cook from a young age.

EDUCATE THEM

Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.

Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.

When our children were young we had an allotment but still grew lots of veg in our garden too so the children could grow their own wonky vegetables.

A lot of children today think their food originates from a Supermarket. We can educate them about food and where it comes from when we involve them and grow our own, this encourages healthier eating too. Sowing, planting, picking, preparing, and cooking their own food teaches them the whole food process, from where it comes from to how it ends up on their plate. And provides a sense of achievement and pride, helping them feel connected to the food they eat, as well as encouraging them to experiment with new foods they wouldn’t normally.

To read more about Food and The U URSELF Routine you can take a sneak peek inside The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child below.

Until next time,

Stay Present,

Em x

ANXIETY / FEAR, Stay Present, U Time

THE HERE & NOW

The easing up of lock down brings with it a mix bag of emotions for all of us, some excitement and relief, others apprehension and tension.

The problem as in everything in life is that we are ruminating on the past or fearful of the future, neither of which exist. We need to bring our attention back onto the here and now. I call this Present Parenting and its something that requires some practice and effort, not because it’s unnatural and we have to learn how to be more present, but because we’ve formed the habit of Auto Pilot Parenting, which is not natural but an unconscious coping mechanism in response to today’s busy world. We just have to remember how to naturally be, which is what we will do through the following exercises.

PRESENT PRACTISING ACTIVITY

  • Think of an activity you would like to try out for this ‘Present Practising Activity’. For me, cooking is a good activity to practise being ‘Present’.
  • Pick something stimulating or a bit challenging, this will keep you interested and focused on the task at hand for longer.
  • Choose a time when you are by yourself to start with, it’s easy to get distracted when our children are around.
  • Now go and do it. If it’s exercise, get up and go for a run, even if it’s just up and down your stairs for five minutes. Try not to think of something that you’ll have to wait to do such as taking up a new hobby like knitting. Of course, this would be a great present practising activity to do but not if you haven’t got any wool or knitting needles as that’ll become your excuse to put this exercise off until they arrive tomorrow. As we know, tomorrow never comes. Whatever you choose, do it now. Not later or tomorrow, this is a Present Practising Activity—the time to do it is now.
  • As you engage in this activity, stay focused on what you are doing and feeling in each moment. You may hear that annoying little voice in your head telling you, ‘This is stupid, stop wasting time, you’re too busy, there’s lots of more important things you should be doing’. But don’t let it bully you into unconsciousness. Stay present!

When cooking, I get absorbed in what I‘m doing, I need to concentrate to prevent chopping a finger off or burning myself.

I stay engaged by choosing to cook different dishes each time to challenge myself and keep me present, if I wander off mentally, I could ruin my evening meal, so I focus on the task at hand. This way, I experience the different tastes, textures, and smells, and I’m not thinking of anything else except what I’m doing, making it also therapeutic, as any worries are forgotten. Time seems to fly by in this flow state. Then once we practise feeling in the flow in new activities we enjoy, we know we can experience this day to day in general too.

If you can’t think of a specific activity to practise being present in, and don’t like cooking, then try practising while having a bath. Feel the warm water surround you, notice the sparkling bubbles floating on the surface and the scent of the soap. Feel your skin wet and soapy, and take in the full experience of having a bath.  Luxuriate in this refreshing experience. How often do you bath without thinking about these things or without really enjoying the experience? 

That’s because when bathing, we are usually somewhere else in mind, and instead of relaxing in the present moment and enjoying the pleasurable experience, we take it for granted, and it becomes another Auto Pilot chore.

Anything we do often tends to end up this way. We become desensitised by its familiarity.

To appreciate the little things and stop our minds from wandering off on a rampage of doom and gloom, we just need to stay in the here and now, the only place we can ever really be!

Don’t forget you can get a- FREE 35-minute hypnotherapy anxiety relief down load, simply by signing up to our Happy Childcare Newsletter now (you’ll get invited to do so each time you visit our site and we’d love to have you in our club!)

And you can check out my interviews this month with Charlene Walters phd on her inspirational women series here https://ownyourother.com/blog/f/inspirational-women-series-an-interview-with-emma-grant

and with The Dorset Book Detective by clicking the link below.

Until next week,

Stay Present, Em x

Thanks for Photo’s by Alyson McPhee Jason Briscoe bruce mars niklas_hamann on Unsplash