We’re so proud of the young man that you’ve become, I don’t think any parent could wish for a better Son than you, or brother!
You’re clever, funny and handsome and your love and respect shines through in all that you do. And your polite and caring personality makes us so proud to be your parents.
We have to thank you Dylan. You were easy from the start.
Easy conception, easy pregnancy, easy birth and easy teen.
I also want to thank you for making us more ‘Present Parents’. 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 love you Mum.’
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 of a great time. A 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.
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. Even the loss of their 1st tooth!
16 marks your first big milestone, an emotional time for us as parents.
Where did those years go?
Only a few months left in school and our boy will soon be a young man, (cringe I know) but you’ll always be my blue eyed baby boy!
I can think of no better bed time routine than a bedtime story!
And not just because print books aid in a restful night’s sleep, as opposed to using electronics or TV before bed, but today the world celebrates World Book Day 2022.
This annual event was created on the 23rd of April 1995 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to encourage children to enjoy reading and to celebrate books and their authors. The first World Book Day in the UK and Ireland was in 1997 and its founder Baroness Gail Rebuck said;
We wanted to do something to reposition reading and our message is the same today as it was then – that reading is fun, relevant, accessible, exciting, and has the power to transform lives.’
I myself have so much to thank books for, as a child they were my favourite way to learn and to relax, and today that’s still true for me.
Today at Happy Childcare we are celebrating a wonderful author friend Sarina Siebenaler and her delightful book Do Not Wish For A Birthday Unicorn!
It’s about Kat a little girl who wishes for a unicorn-themed birthday party. When her mum says ‘Yes’ Kat carefully selects the perfect unicorn, but when she arrives from the Uni Express, they discover she hasn’t bathed in 21 days!
I loved the message in this book around thoughtful, kind and caring intentions, and in particular the sentence that resonated most was;
For, the spirit of kindness will always shine through- when we all work together to help someone blue.
It’s easy to see why all the children loved this book, it’s silly and rhyming and full of fantasy with mentions of clouds, rainbows, mermaids and fairies, even an ostrich.
The older children liked reading it to the younger ones who delighted in the colourful illustrations. And the children even compiled some questions to ask the Author which we have sent to her, and she absolutely loved them all. When we get her answers, we’ll update this post but here are the questions.
What inspired you to write the story?
Where did you write it?
How long did it take you to write?
Where do unicorns come from?
Are unicorns real?
And if so, have you seen one?
Where can I buy a unicorn from?
Ha ha children ask the funniest questions
Thank you to the author Sarina for her wonderful answers as follows.
We can’t wait for book 3 and some more laugh out loud adventures!
Well, if like me you live in Wales, you’ll be half way through half term by now Yippee!
You’ve probably done the cinema, soft play and visits to Gran’s, you’ve bought half of Asda’s toy aisles and your home is a complete and utter mess.
Like most mums you’re probably willing on Monday and praying there’s no inset day you’ve forgotten!
Well done you for getting through the toughest few days, now it’s time to chill out.
So, here’s 3 ways to help you through the next 3 days!
1) ENCOURAGE BOREDOM
Sometimes, we give our children too much choice, and this can overwhelm them.
We think giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we’re keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.
Their choice of what they want to play should be for them to freely choose but if you follow your child’s every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they’ll be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished, what’s next?’ continuously flitting from one activity to another.
Sometimes we just have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.
We can’t do this if we keep providing things for them to do. They have to learn how to amuse themselves and become creative.
So, think less is more when it comes to play, less intervention, less toys, and more freedom and imagination.
Toys today are designed to do everything so our children don’t have to think. Dolls now talk, wee, eat, and cry, cars and trains move by themselves powered by batteries, electricity, and computers, nothing is left to imagination anymore. Even physical books are replaced by e-book readers, so there’s no need to even read the words on the page with audio books. Everything is already done for them, but is this better for our children?
We’ve got to allow our children the privilege of boredom so they can discover imaginative play again. There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, so when children are left to play out in the garden, they say there’s nothing to play with. We had no kids TV channels when I was growing up and certainly no computers or phones to ‘play on’ we played out in the rain with fresh air. And I look back fondly on those memories of the ‘good old’ days.
But even today, children can have just as much fun playing in the garden, having picnics in the park, or playing with a cardboard box than they do with a computer. They have to be given these opportunities and experiences though.
The absence of a TV, mobile phone, or computer can make our children feel bored because they’re used to this type of stimulation, and they can’t play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they’re bored.
I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’
2) CHORES NOT CHOICE
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 ‘d lots to be getting on with and got on with it!
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’ll struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer, or TV? You’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’d soon find something to do which is more fun.
What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?
3) JOIN IN
When was the last time you had some real fun playing with your child?
As grownups we have so many rules and we often try to impose these rules on our childrens play. But there’s no rules to playing. We may feel we have to take them to soft play or the cinema so they can ‘be occupied’ or ‘do something’ but what fun is that for us?
Do YOU really have fun watching animated films or watching tired, teary, toddlers fighting over the balls in the ball pit?
Us Time should be about engaging in fun together, it’s not about spending money or going anywhere in particular.
A spontaneous walk in the woods spotting squirrels is just as good as any day out. You can find adventure anywhere when you look for it and you can relearn from your child how to enjoy doing that too. Stick or conker collecting, climbing trees and finding objects hidden in the clouds, are all fun, free ways to engage with your child.
Regardless of what we do with our children, if we’re having fun, then we’re playing.
It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.
Genuine play always feels good as it replaces control for freedom, anxiety for laughter, and learning for entertainment.
Those 18 years have flown by but what fun we’ve had.
So now you can have your 1st (legal) alcoholic beverage, drive a car and attend appointments without a parent.
It’s a bitter sweet moment seeing you grow up into an independent lady.
We’re so proud of you and everything you’ve achieved. It’s been a challenging year or so for you, losing close loved ones, juggling a new job, A levels, driving lessons and some health issues but despite it all, you just get on with it and give it all your best shot.
You’re an old, wise soul, mature beyond your 18 years, but you’ll always be our little girl!
Motherhood is precious but childhood goes too fast.
Sometimes, you need to prioritise your time with those people and things that are most important to you. As mums we all feel guilty for doing anything other than parenting. But when we are spending Us Time with our kid’s, ironically, we tend to feel guilty for neglecting our other chores.
But even cleaning is clutter.
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.
As long as we are alive, it never ends, so we needn’t feel the housework has to be done before we enjoy time with our children. I know it’s embarrassing when an unexpected visitor turns up and the house is a mess, but living life is more important than looking good to others. Besides, 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. And useless, unused boxes of toys gathering dust, just create more unnecessary cleaning.
Enjoy some guilt free ‘Us Time’ playing today because toys that are loved and used often don’t gather dust, only memories.
Mum guilt will never leave us alone, no matter what we do. If we work to make a better life for our children, we feel guilty we aren’t around enough, if we stay home dedicating all our time and attention to them, we feel guilty we can’t afford to give them what everyone else has.
We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
But why should we feel guilty for pursuing our own interests and having a life of our own?
Going to work to progress our careers or make money, is part of Proactive Parenting and essential to a healthy, balanced life. Working helps us to increase our own self-esteem and confidence and gives us much needed goals.
And daily U Time for ourselves to join the gym, have a bath, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or massage, go out for a meal or for a manicure, or pursue a hobby or course, is essential to our overall wellbeing.
Life is not just about working or raising a family. We get one life and fun should be a part of it.
A GUILTY BUSINESS
Yet, being a parent can be a guilty business if we let it. It’s usually the most loving parents amongst us who experience it the most. If only we could extend that love onto ourselves more often than guilt?
And if only our children felt this guilty whenever they woke us up in the middle of the night for no reason, or whenever they humiliated us with a tantrum in a busy supermarket. But they don’t. (You can read my latest article on managing tantrums –BIG Little Feelings, in the Winter edition of mums and tots magazine on sale now.)
A NICE STYLE
No parent ever wants to see their child upset, and our children know this and can be very clever and creative in instilling us, with a guilty complex. So too can our boss, spouse, and even our own parents.
It’s a technique, and each will have their own style;
An angry style, ‘It’s all your fault!’
A feeling sorry for themselves, ‘It’s all my fault.’
Or the subtle style, done in a nice, yet underhanded way.
My daughter had a nice style. Instead of risking a ‘no’ and asking me outright for whatever she wanted, she nicely instiled guilt before-hand.
Such as the time she said to me;
‘Oh, Mum can you…? Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter.’
‘What?’ I asked, intrigued, in the middle of doing something else.
‘Well, I was going to ask if you would paint my nails, but I know you’re too busy and I don’t want to take up your time when you could be doing something more important.’
Horrified by her words, I instantly dropped what I was doing and happily painted all of her little fingernails, as I explained that I was never too busy to do anything for her.
In fact, I told her I enjoyed doing it.
It was only later as I guiltily mulled it over with my husband, that I realized I had nothing to feel guilty about.
He pointed out to me that my daughter knew exactly what she was doing, and that what she said would make me feel guilty enough to do what she wanted me to do.
I’d fallen for the guilt trip, even though I’d done her nails for her and had nothing to feel guilty about, yet, I was still carrying those words ‘Too busy’ with me, while indulging in my guilty complex hours later.
AN ENDLESS LIST
Mums feel guilty about almost anything and everything.
Guilty about working, not working, spending money on yourself, having a childfree night out, putting your child in childcare, saying ‘No’ to your child when they want something, telling them off/being too strict or too soft, not being able to afford the Christmas presents they want, choosing the wrong school, Mum/Dad for them, living in the wrong area, not taking them out on day trips/holidays or spending enough quality time with them, not realizing they were ill/being bullied/underachieving at school, making them do homework, not being able to make their school sports day/Christmas concert, etc…etc…
Boring I know, but that guilty list is endless as a parent.
Feel free to carry on with your own long list, if you feel in the mood for making yourself feel like an awful parent.
In fact, you may find this exercise cathartic, even funny, who knows, let’s try it?
Grab a pen and notebook and a cuppa while you’re indulging in some guilty ‘U Time’.
Now, list as many things that you either have or have not done for your child, or about your role as a parent, as you can manage in the space of five minutes that makes you feel guilty.
Think of everything that pricks at your conscience, tugs at your heartstrings, or tickles you as much as a bash on your funny bone. Go on, indulge in your guiltiness until you feel really bad. Let all that guilt flow, get it all out of you, out of your head and onto paper.
And then …. rip that lists up into tiny pieces and let it all go. Throw it away with all the other useless rubbish in the bin. Make sure you put it in the rubbish bin and not the recycling though; you don’t want it coming back in some other form one day. You want it out of your life for good, out where it belongs with the rest of the rubbish, in the refuse dump until it disintegrates.
Guilt’s a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, channell your energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause you guilt.
Start by trying this next guilt busting exercise;
Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?
You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?
Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.
YOU NEED U TIME.
We all need time and space away from our children occasionally, to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands. Whether that’s a night out with friends or a weekend away with our partner.
The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it wouldn’t be enough. Their 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.
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. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.
CHILDREN NEED U TIME TOO!
We never need to feel guilty, as children also need U Time for themselves too.
Time with their own thoughts to play, ponder, and daydream is vital.
So, what? Maybe you do work more than most building a career or business to support you family or dreams, or maybe you choose to stay home and bake cakes all day with your little ones. It’s your life, it’s your choice, and neither one is right or wrong.
2022 marks the beginning of a new guiltless way of living, where we stop punishing ourselves. It’s time to realise your value and what you contribute, rather than focusing on what’s missing or wrong. Guilt just doesn’t serve us or our children, so we don’t need it sucking our energy any longer.
It’s that crazy, chaotic time of year again, when we spend a couple of months preparing for one big day!
And with so many expectations around the ‘Perfect Christmas’ its no wonder we all feel so overwhelmed.
But here’s some tips for keeping Christmas calm this year.
PREVENT OVERSPENDING AND OVER BUYING
Children don’t understand the financial cost of gifts, they value things on the value they have to them entertainment wise.
They like to play and experiment with toys, which usually means expensive things get broken. So, a good trick is to look at any new toy that we give a child as broken already. This money saving technique will prevent overspending on expensive toys while gift shopping. Making a list of what you’re buying beforehand, also helps. Then, wrap gifts straight away, keeping a note of what you bought for whom and how much it cost, to prevent over spending and last-minute panic buying.
PREVENT OVERSTIMULATION AND OVERWHELM
Routines are key. Children need to know what to expect, when, where and why more than ever during the holidays.
Work things around your child’s regular routine, not around anything or anyone else.
Stick to regular bedtimes and mealtimes, while offering plenty of warnings and reminders of what’s to come.
And spread the joy, anticipation and appreciation for visitors, sweet treats and gifts, over a few days, rather than in one go.
MANAGE YOUR OWN STRESS LEVELS
All that shopping, spending, wrapping and prep can be stressful, so don’t forget to take some daily U Time for yourself to just relax. Whether that’s a soak in the bath after a long day or sitting down with a cuppa, taking time to breathe in the here and now and get organised in your head, reduces stress.
Take our Mumatherapy Stress Checker Quiz now to check your stress levels
This year many of us will want to visit friends and family to make up for last year’s Covid restrictions but the mere thought of this maybe making you feel anxious. If so, plan ahead now to ensure you and your partner are not stressed with one another. Your energy (and anxiety) will rub off on the little ones, so calm kids need calm parents when travelling. But you can still expect some bored and restless behaviour along the way and if you have more than one child, there’ll be squabbling too. This is normal but you can help alleviate some of it by making regular stops for a feed, to stretch legs and take toilet breaks and making the journey a fun experience, by listening to their favourite songs or pointing out the scenery and playing games such as; count how many red cars you can see or spot the mini, and taking along activities such as colouring books or digital devices.
AVOIDING THE EMBARISSMENT OF TODDLER TANTRUMS WHEN VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS?
Be proactive in pre-empting your child’s moods and emotions and get everyone in your team. Let friends and family members know your child’s routines and triggers. And to prevent any undue attention, remind everyone beforehand that your child may act childish (kids are childish, so you don’t need to feel embarrassed by other people unrealistic, expectations of your children) and encourage grownups to just ignore any carrot flinging episodes or melt downs at bedtime.
HOW TO BALANCE EXPECTATIONS WITH REALITY?
Keep your own expectations realistic and stay present in the moment and forget what you didn’t do or buy, and stop worrying about how tomorrow will work out.
Christmas is a memory making moment, make happy Christmas memories your child will cherish, and enjoy this time yourself.
Build that Lego castle, watch that family movie together and stay present in each and every moment, that’s the real gift that keeps on giving.
Reactive parenting is when all the tears, tantrums, and struggles happen, making us feel powerless, as if our children and their behaviour is out of our control.
So here’s 5 Proactive Pointers to put you in control, without being a controlling parent.
1. The Night Before
To alleviate the morning panic and chaos, decide what everyone will wear and lay school uniforms, PE kits, bags, shoes, homework etc.. out the night before. And make lunches or put the dinner money in an envelope ready.
Ironing school uniforms in the morning when running late is a nightmare!
To save time and stress, choose an hour or so a week (I personally love Sunday mornings to do this) to blast through the ironing pile in one go, and ask your child to read their schoolbooks to you as you iron (of course never leave the iron unattended while children are around). Then that’s homework and iron ticked off in one go. 🙂
Alternatively, pay someone else to do the ironing?
2. Delegate Chores
Affordable ironing services will pick up and drop off ironing and the time and stress they save makes up for the cost.
Shopping online to save time parking and packing can also help.
So can getting the kids to help around the home. Children like to feel grown up. They enjoy sorting the clothes into colours, putting the washing machine on, and pegging the clothes on the line.
When we include them, we’re not multitasking them with chores because they’re enjoying the process.
The difference is the way in which the task is approached and how we treat them. Instead of our children competing with the vacuum cleaner for our attention, while we scream and shout at them over the noise, we can involve them in what we are doing. We stress-less and get help to complete chores, while enjoying some fun ‘Us time’ together.
3. Do it Now
Make a habit of dealing with things as soon as you can, instead of saving them for later, so they don’t all stack up to be an insurmountable mountain, that you have no energy to tackle.
Check your diaries and to do lists today, and do all the things that can be done now.
If there’s too much that can be done now, is all of it necessary?
If not, can you get rid or delegate it?
Having to buy or make a costume for our children’s Christmas concert, for example, is much easier and far less stressful, if we tackle it the day we find out about it. I’ve often set the school letters aside and thought; ‘I’ll do that nearer the time, at the moment, there’re more important things to do today.’
Then before I know it, the costume has to be taken into school the next day for the show, and I have no time or resources to make one and no time to shop around or get one delivered from the internet either.
Think now or never when you get that letter!
4. SAY ‘NO’ TO TIME TAKERS
Time Takers come in all sorts of disguises, they’re not always people but all have one thing in common, they need you, but you don’t need them.
They can be jobs that need doing, places you have to go to, commitments you don’t need, want or enjoy. Feel free to make your own list, as this will be invaluable in taking that time back in the future. Here are some examples to kick start you off:
• Your boss asks you to do over time.
• Your partner wants you to entertain their friends.
• The dog needs a walk.
• The school needs a volunteer.
• Family is coming to visit.
• There’s a course you must take.
• A friend wants a gossip.
• Email & Social Media notifications keep going off.
• Your Sister needs a babysitter.
• Your Dad needs help with the gardening.
• Your Mum needs a lift to the hospital.
• The housework/decorating needs doing.
All can feel like they urgently need attending to, and all are worthy, loving acts, but you don’t have to be the one who attends to them all, all the time. Doing too much can feel like you’re being stretched beyond your limit, and this scattering of time and attention, anywhere and everywhere, can result in you going nowhere and doing nothing fast.
It’s about learning to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty or upsetting other people, and like anything else, it gets a lot easier the more you practice saying it.
We need to practice saying ‘No’ more often to others, and stop saying ‘No’ to ourselves.
We know what we should be doing to help our children, but often, we just don’t know how or where to start?
Well, routine Muma is the place.
When we’re busy, stressed, and short of time, routines guide us in the right direction, so no one’s confused about what they should be doing, when, and why.
But what routines exactly do our children need?
A routine which includes;
Recreational play time,
Routines create a clear route for us to guide our children. You can read more about The UURSELF Routine here
The word Recreation means to recreate, and we can do that as much as children love to, actually, we’re re-creating our lives every day, but we are often unaware that we are doing so. Sometimes, this means we create experiences that are not always fun or just, well …. humdrum.
But if we can create the boring unwanted stuff, then it stands to reason we can also create more fun in our lives too.
Children are master creators with vivid, unlimited imaginations that allow them to become anything and anyone, from a random object such as a chair to an Alien from Outer Space, nothing is off limits in their play.
It’s this natural ability to shut off reality and enter play that offers them an essential form of escapism. A safe haven from stress, anxiety, and worry. Helping them to make sense of events and the world they live in, and to digest and learn new concepts at their own pace.
Recreation can be called many things such as; leisure, hobby, pastime, exercise, play, activity, amusement, sport, even work!
But play never actually feels like hard work.
How we feel and our concept of time, is how we can differentiate real play, from any other experience.
Play has the ability to immerse and stimulate to the point we lose track of all time and reality. Play throws caution to the wind and allows anyone at any time, to do anything, no matter how silly or unconventional.
Regardless of what we do with our children, if we are having fun, then we’re playing. It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.
Genuine play always feels good as it replaces control for freedom, anxiety for laughter, and learning for entertainment.
When was the last time you actually played?
U Time is not a luxury but a daily necessity that you not only deserve but NEED.
Do you work so hard that you forget to make time to rest and recuperate?
Do you feel guilty spending time or money on yourself?
If you put U time off, you risk burning out, which actually stops you from working efficiently, productively or to the best of your ability.
When this happens not only will your work suffer but so will you and your family. Do something today just for you, that makes you feel good. Book that massage or hairdressers appointment, buy that new book or album you would like to listen to and relax.
🧘♀️ If you need help scheduling U TIME or would like some R & R, why not book a Mumatherapy session today and receive 20% off any booking for a Friday or Saturday in September. There’s also PMR (PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION) sessions FOR ONLY £25 during September if you book now using code JULY-PMR.
What does PMR do for you?
It’s like a massage for your mind.
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Where negative statements can be accepted as true in our children’s mind, so too can positive statements. We call these Affirmations, and they can be used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, or reaffirm something wanted, bringing about positive thoughts and feelings. They’re positive statements said as if they are already true.
As adults we may feel a bit silly saying them at first, but children are less self-conscious. They’ll find affirmations a fun way to program their minds and to plant and grow positive suggestions in their subconscious. But what’s really great is if they can accept these positive suggestions while young, then there will be less reprogramming to be done as they get older.
To encourage this habit, they need to think of a positive statement in the present tense that they can relate to. The language needs to be simple, using words they would use in everyday speech and that’s appropriate for their understanding. If too complex, they’ll be less likely to understand or take the statements on board. It’s better they choose their own affirmations they feel comfortable with saying, these can be written if the child is old enough, to compliment and reinforce the verbal affirmation but are best said aloud repeatedly. They need to be short, simple, positive, uplifting, motivating, and believable. Such as; ‘I am now learning more and more every day.’ Repetition is key to affirmations and the more they practise using positive affirmations, the easier they get and the better they start to feel about themselves and their capabilities.
This probably won’t surprise you to know, but while children are speaking and thinking positively about themselves, it’s impossible for them to think negatively, and then fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and frustration disappear. This is useful if they are struggling in some area, such as learning how to read, instead of listening to their self-defeating mental chatter, they can replace it with positive self-talk and could say; ‘I enjoy learning how to read, reading is fun, and I am now finding it easier and easier to read.’
We can clearly understand how this approach is more helpful than what children usually say such as;
‘I can’t read, I hate reading, it’s hard.’ Convincing themselves with their own words that they cannot read, not realising that they are the ones holding themselves back. Children confuse lack of experience and confidence in something, such as reading, as a lack of ability, and believe they do not, cannot, and will never be able to do it. Any mistakes they encounter only reinforce this, knocking their confidence further, we can minimise the risk of this happening by introducing our children to affirmations.
I like the affirmation bowl. Write out some affirmations on some post it notes and mix them up in a bowl and ask your child to pick one each morning and evening before bed. Then notice how their behaviour and language becomes more positive and how their self- esteem and confidence improves.
A chance for us to shut off that constant mental chatter, stress, worry, work and woe.
A time to do those things we love to do, for the sheer enjoyment of doing them.
Freedom to indulge in our pleasures and be with those special people we love?
Hang on…. What do you mean you wish?
What will you be doing this weekend if not any or all of the above?
We all deserve a break, even You.
Work and Worries Never End!
There’s always going to be laundry in the basket and an un-surmountable pile of paperwork or emails harassing us. Our work doesn’t cease to exist because it’s the weekend either. And those work issues can dwell in our minds constantly if we let them, taking up our time and attention, even on our days off.
But when are we free to enjoy life and those we love most?
Totally free to be in the moment and do nothing without feeling guilty?
It’s a rare occasion for most of us.
But today if you only do one thing, free your mind with some U Time.
We all know this is easier said than done, but when we consciously make space and time just for U Time, like we would cooking tea for the kids or washing the school uniforms, then we allow ourselves the chance to relax into the present moment. When we focus on the moment, this very minute that we are currently experiencing, we can’t ruminate on the past or worry about the un-lived future. Although that seems so obviously basic, it eludes us all.
We get caught up in the humdrum, daily dramas of our everyday lives. The unimportant, insignificant details, that cloud our true purpose and reality.
Robbing us of our peace of mind that we are all seeking but never find for long.
If only we could just temporarily let go and have five minutes peace?
Why not try?
Find a space that’s relaxing, quiet and away from all distraction’s, switch off your electronic devices and phones.
I have a space in my home where I place crystals, stones and candles. When I spend U Time there I let go of everything that’s mentally cluttering up my head and watch the fog drift away. Finding things that calm you or bring you joy will help, you don’t need buddha’s or crystals, if they aren’t your thing listen to a water feature or look at a painting, smell some aromatherapy oils, anything you feel comfortable with that signals to you this is U Time.
Make sure no one will disturb you and either sit or lay down somewhere, in a nice comfortable position. Surround yourself with cushions or soft warm blankets if that helps?
And take in some slow deep breathes.
Feel where your tension resides in your body?
We are all different, one person may carry their tension in their neck and shoulders, another in their jaws or buttocks. Wherever it feels uncomfortable breathe into it, focusing on that place, and allow it to release, as you breathe out gently and slowly.
There’s no -where to go, nothing to do, and no one to see, so you are absolutely free.
Free your mind of mental chatter and you’ll free your muscles of tense matter.
This is ‘U Time’ feel free to let go and relax. You can’t do this wrong, you just breathe.
Melt into whatever is supporting your body and just keep breathing, and as you do so, say to yourself;
Don’t just say the words, feel them, like a warm, comforting sensation flowing through you.
Practice this letting go and breathing to free your mind, until you get bored.
But I warn you, this state of pure relaxation and freedom of thought is addictive and hard to break, but it’s a great habit to make.
So, …. how will you spend your weekend now?
If you would like some help learning to relax and let go, then book your free Mumatherapy Consultation today! All bookings for September 2021 made in May will receive a 20% discount, please quote Muma May when booking.
Puppy fat, as it was once termed was a way of describing a chubby child. In the past children would lose this naturally as they grew into adolescence. Now though this is no longer the case.
According to research conducted by Dr Gavin Sandercock, Reader in Clinical Physiology at The University of Essex; the least fit child in a class of thirty school children tested in 1998 would be amongst the five fittest children in a class of thirty tested today.
The current pandemic hasn’t helped, but its our obesity epidemic that’s the real problem. That’s why Recreation is a big part of The UURSELF Routine.
The benefits of exercise on our children are numerous, helping them to;
Eat and maintain a healthy appetite
Boost memory and concentration
Enhance their moods
Increase energy levels
Fight against infections
Increases self-confidence & self-image
Exercise releases endorphins, these are natural, happy, chemicals which can make children feel good and boost their mood.
Exercise can also change body shape, making children fitter, leaner, and toned, helping to boost their body image and physical confidence. This can reduce or prevent depression or anxiety.
Exercise doesn’t need to be a planned particular activity though; exercise is simply another word for movement.
Encouraging exercise shouldn’t be costly or hard work. If we have six children all wanting Karate lessons, that could get costly!
It should be fun, free, and easy.
Not all children enjoy sports, so it’s important to find activities they do like, such as gardening. This way, they’ll be unaware of the energy they are using whilst sowing and digging as they become absorbed in the activity itself.
Exercise is just another word for play time, so making it fun is key. The only thing that matters is they are moving their bodies.
That could mean playing with friends, going to the park or indoor soft play area, kicking a ball about in the garden, playing tag, hopscotch, riding their bikes, skates or scooter. Simply playing, walking, running, skipping, hoola hooping, jumping, hopping, or bouncing on a Trampoline are all fun ways for children to keep fit and active.
Exercising daily now will stand them in good stead, not only as children, but later on as adults too. Statistically, the chances are if they stay inactive now while young, they will grow up into inactive adults.
To quote Lord Sebastian Coe, today’s children are the ‘Least active generation in history’ and could be the first generation in existence to have a shorter life expectancy than that of their parents.
That’s a shocking prospect.
But taking regular daily exercise today, will benefit them later on, setting them up with healthy habits for the future.
We create their habits by making the rules and routines for them to follow. Making exercise a daily part of their routine encourages the habit of exercise.
You can read more about Recreation and The UURSELF Routine in The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child, available from all good book retailers including Amazon and iTunes.
The thing I’ve loved most about my job is that my children were always surrounded by other children of different ages. At some point in their lives, they were the youngest child, the middle child and the eldest. And they were never without friends to play with.
When they were preschooler’s they looked up to and learnt from the older children, when they became the middle children, they were role models, and as the eldest they were teachers for the younger ones.
They always had a sense of belonging and responsibility growing up. And it’s the same for every other child who enters child care young and grows up in that setting.
Children who are given roles and responsibilities in life feel important and this is what helps them to build self-esteem.
I’ve always given the older children tasks to do such as laying the table or reading the younger children a story.
To have an older child read to younger ones, boosts the older child’s self-esteem and can give the younger ones listening, a better experience. Children can make a story come alive and aren’t afraid to have fun with characters voices. Most adults find this type of enthusiasm unnatural or difficult when reading a simple picture book.
SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves, that they think they should or the way they want to be.
Being in a diverse world where everyone is different is a blessing but children do not see it this way if they are the unique ones, who look or feel different.
Children want to fit in and be like everyone else.
So how can we as parents help them to feel accepted and happy with themselves for who they are and how can we explain to young children that’s its okay to be different?
Books are the easiest way to naturally relay important messages to young children. Reading books with our children is proactive parenting.
Most books have important messages imbedded in the story. Uplifting books can motivate and inspire our children or can educate and help them to understand feelings and emotions better.
Books can also open up discussions. Listening and talking to our children and understanding how they feel and view themselves is vital to proactive parenting — It’s normal to find they dislike something about their body, or they don’t feel good enough at something and if this is the case, we should listen and talk to them about it, using books to overcome any self-limiting beliefs they may hold about themselves. They may have an exaggerated view of something or even an unjustified one. They maybe comparing themselves with others, dismissing their own great attributes.
Learning to appreciate themselves and what they do have — instead of comparing what they don’t have, will increase their self-esteem, self-image and self confidence in all areas of their lives.
A tall person for instance may not make a very good jockey but they would make a great model. It’s about getting them to appreciate and work with what they have got going for them naturally, and using it. Stories can uncover characters vulnerabilities that some children can relate to, and by reading how the character in the book learns to overcome these, can help children do the same in their own lives.
Good books address losing, failing or feelings of inadequacy and how that is a normal part of everyone’s, everyday life at times.
Children come to understand that it’s not about winning or being the best, its about being a part of something and not being afraid to be themselves, even if they are different and approach thing differently to their peers.
Last week, one of the older children at Happy Childcare read a fantastic book to the younger children about just that. It was called Hop and was about a dog that had been adopted by kangaroos, so clearly had some differences to everyone else in her family.
For one, she was no Joey and she just couldn’t do the kangaroo bounce but she so badly wanted to join in with the other joeys, so they had a race. Despite her limitations she enjoyed it, and although she didn’t win the race, that didn’t matter because she had so much fun taking part and overcoming her differences, in novel and creative ways.
The book deals with self -esteem and self-image issues perfectly for young children, and the topic proved to be an interesting discussion for the older children too. You can find the book Hop by Cherise Cross on Amazon in paper back or Kindle format but I would recommend the paper back version as the illustrations by Francois Arnaud are brilliant.
Children are not born with confidence; it grows as they do. When learning to walk they fall down, but they don’t give up and bit by bit, the more they practice, the better they become. One day they are crawling, then toddling, then walking, running, hopping and jumping. What once would’ve seemed like an impossible task, suddenly becomes normal. And by giving things a go despite any perceived limitations or beliefs, they learn that they can succeed.
Fussy eating driving you mad? Want to ensure your child is reaching their optimum learning potential?
Since lockdown, former parents of children I’ve cared for have been getting in touch to ask me what meals and recipes I used to cook for their childrens tea, as they won’t eat anything remotely healthy at home.
I know many parents struggle with time to cook nutritious, healthy meals, that they know their children simply won’t eat.
It’s heart breaking when you’ve lovingly prepared a meal, only to end up scraping it all in the bin. Our children are not concerned that we have spent hours slaving over a hot stove, spent a fortune on the best organic ingredients, or created a culinary piece of art.
So, we can forget trying to make them feel guilty for our labour, this only adds to their obstinate nature.
They can’t contemplate the future either and don’t understand it when we say;
‘If you don’t eat now, you’ll be hungry later.’
They can’t think that far ahead about how they might feel later. They think and feel at the moment they are in. That’s why feeling hungry is a good way of demonstrating the consequences of not eating their meal.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t persist in offering healthy meals every day. In fact, we should persist, day in, day out, until they understand there’s no alternatives.
The best way to do this is to offer foods they do like, along with those they don’t and try to be creative in combining ingredients.
Many children are fish haters but I’ve found that making a fish pie encourages them to eat more fish. I mix an assortment of wild pacific salmon, cod, and smoked haddock, with parsley sauce and petit pois and sweetcorn, topped with a creamy mash potato. It’s a comfort food favourite of mine that reminds me of my childhood and a dish I cooked for my children weekly whist young.
Fish pie is a much healthier alternative to fish fingers and chips. Anything fried or processed provide empty calories, that offer no nutrients for healthy growth and brain development, such as essential vitamins, minerals and omegas.
Long chain Omega 3 is vital to our childrens intellectual development. In fact, infants who don’t get enough (DHA) are 48% more likely to score in the lowest quartile of IQ tests. We can help support our children’s brain potential and increase their intake of omega 3, by offering oily fish 3 times a week.
Ideally our children should have between 125mg and 250mg of DHA a day. If not from their diet, then from an omega 3 supplement every day. Always do your research on supplements first though, to check dosages and correct times to take them and that they won’t adversely affect any medication your child is on.
How we cook food is important to our children’s health. Swapping fried foods for poached, boiled or steamed options, and chips for boiled, mashed or jacket potatoes (skin left on) is a healthier option.
Here is my easy, peasy, fish pie, which usually takes around 40 minutes to prepare and cook, although I prep it all earlier in the day and heat it up in the oven after the school run, making it a winner, winner fish dinner!
Easy Peasy Fish Pie
Put 2 bags of mixed fish (available from most supermarkets, around 800g) into a baking tray and cover with foil and cook as per cooking instructions on the packet.
Try not to overcook as this will dry fish out and make it rubbery and we have to cook it again later.
Peel and cut into cubes a bag of white potatoes (2.5 kg) and boil.
Blend 600ml (a pint) of full fat milk into a saucepan with 2 packets of parsley sauce mix, stir continuously.
Take fish out when cooked and put into a large baking dish, mix in the parsley sauce and 2 cupsful of petit pois and 2 cupsful of sweetcorn.
Mash the potatoes with a small pat or two of butter and splash of milk and top the fish mix with the mash potato and pop in the over to reheat for 20 minutes, low heat, to crisp up mash topping.
Serve with broccoli.
This is a quick dish to ensure they get three of their recommended daily amount of vegetables and some healthy fish (Salmon is the richest, oily fish source of protein). I make this amount for approximately 8 children, with broccoli extra on the side, so if you are a smaller family or have adults to feed vary the amount of ingredients, for example, a family of 3 will only need 1 bag of mixed fish and less potatoes.
TWO TEA TIME CHOICES
Don’t get upset if they refuse to eat the fish pie that you’ve lovingly cooked them though. And definitely don’t be tempted to give them fish fingers instead because they refuse to eat it.
If we do, they will come to expect their preferred alternative all the time. Not because they prefer the fish fingers to the fish pie, but because they will have learnt how to get their own way. You can throw the fish pie in the bin if they refuse to eat it, but never give them anything else. If they are not hungry or refuse to eat, simply clear it away and wait until their next meal.
As long as we don’t allow them to snack unhealthily in the meantime, they’ll soon associate their refusal to eat dinner with hunger, serving as a good reminder to eat their next meal and giving them an appetite.
The food is there if they are hungry and want it, they have a choice. Eat it or don’t. Not fish pie or fish fingers.
Once they realize they have the choice to eat it or not, and it doesn’t bother us either way, then, if hungry, they will eat it.
You may not think it can be this simple and you may have tried unsuccessfully in the past, but perseverance is key. I know it works as it’s a method I’ve seen work with lots of children over the years, over and over again. I’ve never known it to fail, unless parents have given up before they’ve given it a real go.
We have to mean what we say though and say what we mean, calmly and confidently.
‘The food’s there if you are hungry, if not, you don’t have to eat it, but there will be nothing else to eat.’
They might say they are hungry but don’t like what we are offering them, but we mustn’t feel guilty for doing the right thing, they have a choice.
Some parents protest their children would never eat fish pie, but they never really offer it, especially if they dislike it themselves.
Fish pie is not a punishment, its love on a plate.
You can read more about fussy and resistant eaters in my worldwide, best selling book – The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child available from all good book shops. Alternatively, you can now listen to the audio version on Audible or iTunes, click button below or visit Amazon.
During lockdown we’ve all suffered from sleepless nights, whether that’s through anxiety, not enough exercise, unhealthy eating choices or disrupted routines. Added to that we’ve had clingier children who have picked up on our fears and anxieties too. In fact, lockdown has caused our children to become more dependent on us as parents and more needy than ever, leaving us at our children’s beck and call 24 -7.
Some children born into lockdown know no other way, others have just become accustomed to having us around doing everything for them.
But we need our U Time and rest as much as they do.
Friday the 19th of March is World Sleep Day, so here’s some tips to help restore a good night’s sleep for our little ones, because if they are sleeping, we can too!
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Children need to feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed in their bed. We can make bedtimes more inviting and cosier for our children by addressing the basics and reviewing them from time to time, as our children grow.
That busy, blue, rocket wallpaper may have seemed a good idea when you found out you were having a boy, but how practical is it today now your toddler wont sleep?
We don’t want our children to be stimulated at bedtime, so instead of choosing the traditional bright colours for you child’s bedroom, opt for more subtle, green tones. Green is closer to nature and offers a relaxing, tranquil environment, which is conducive for sleep and much more soothing.
Have you noticed recently that your child has started to wake up earlier in the morning?
This could be due to the change in seasons. We may not have needed black out curtains or blinds during the dark winter months but now spring is on its way, bringing lighter mornings and evenings, this can prevent them dropping straight off or arouse them too early. Any signs of light will wake them easily and affect their body clock, so it’s a good idea investing in blackout blinds or curtains, while avoiding night lights or leaving landing lights on to comfort them.
As the seasons change so do the temperatures and what was once a nice, warm duvet in the winter, is now a hot, heavy burden in the summer, so changing duvet togs and the number of blankets or textures can help. Likewise adding extra blankets in the winter will ensure they are never too cold. Remember infants can’t regulate their own temperature so this is important for us to monitor. We can also regulate temperature by opening a window, using a fan or putting the heating on or off.
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, no one should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep. Lack of sleep is also accumulative, so our children have to catch up on sleep whenever they can.
Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night.
Parents sometimes avoid their children taking daytime naps, fearing they won’t sleep as long at night, but the reverse is actually true. Sleep deprived children have the worst sleeping habits, and those who nap in the day, actually sleep better at night. Children who need, but do not take a nap in the day, become overtired. Physical and mental capacity is impaired with too much activity and stimulation. This can be nearly as bad as none at all, making learning to relax a useful skill, so offering quiet time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day, is just as important as napping or sleeping at night.
MAKE IT INVITING
When my children were young, bedtime was our favourite Us Time together. We’d chat about the day, have a story and a cuddle and share with one another 3 things we were grateful for that day. By making bedtime an inviting, relaxing time, children will look forward to it.
WARNINGS AND REMINDERS
Children see bedtime as a fun spoiler, especially if absorbed in play or watching their favourite TV programme. But we can make it easier for them to accept by offering plenty of warnings and reminders. We need to gradually prepare them, letting them know fifteen minutes beforehand, with 5-minute reminders in between, e.g., if their bedtime is at 7pm then start at 6.45pm with- ‘Time to put your toys away.’ 6.50pm, ‘Let’s brush our teeth.’ and 6.55pm, ‘Let’s hop into bed for a story.’ This gives them the chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves.
ROUTINE IS KEY
Routines have gone out the window for many of us. Not having to get up for school has caused havoc and late nights and lay ins have become the norm. children’s sleeping habits have changed without the usual structure to their day so this will have impacted everything else, such as our children’s behaviour. To remedy this, it’s time to start or get our children back into a routine.
I recommend the U URSELF Routine to help restore harmony at home, as it covers;
U Time, Us Time, Recreation and Exercise, Sleep, Esteem, Love and Food, all of which impact a child’s sleeping habits.
You can read more about the U URSELF Routine on our web page by clicking the button below
Having a regular time to go to bed is vital. Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it helps develop certain sleep wave patterns. These don’t change at the weekend; their body clock will send them to sleep and wake them up the same time on a Saturday, as it would on a Monday. So, bedtime needs to be consistent even at weekends.
We won’t be able to make them sleep while in bed, but our job is done when we make sure they are tucked up at a set time. There’s no need to argue with them to sleep, we are just setting a routine. They will fall asleep of their own accord when their bed becomes their cue to, and there’s nothing else stimulating on offer.
Keeping noise down helps a light or sensitive sleeper too, if they can hear you laughing at the TV downstairs then that’s where they’ll naturally want to be.
One child may be younger, making their bedtime different from their older siblings, and this is where difficulties can lie. Obviously, the younger child won’t want to be going to bed alone and will try to prevent this. There’s nothing we can do to make them sleep; however, we must still stick to their bedtime routine and make sure they go to their room at the appropriate time, ensuring all members of the family are respectful of their need for quiet.
If their physical environment is conducive to a good night’s sleep, and hunger or overtiredness can be ruled out, yet they’re still not sleeping through the night, the usual culprits are illness, teething, and general pain or enuresis.
Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss. We can do this by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.
Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be ok. We must be understanding, reassuring any fears they have in a calm and confident manner, whilst still communicating to them that, what we are asking them to do i.e., go to sleep, is not bad but good for them!
As parents most of us have good intentions when it comes to giving our children a healthy well-balanced diet but there are many reasons why this is often difficult in reality.
Children can be very adamant when it come to not eating certain types of food and very persuasive and demanding when it comes to eating unhealthy foods. Parenting throws so many daily battles to get through with our children, such as school work, going to bed on time and behaviour, that food can easily get overlooked as a less important issue to deal with. Yet, food impacts our childrens academic abilities, sleeping patterns and behaviour. So, it should be one of the first things we address.
THE U URSELF ROUTINE
That’s why I included it in The U URSELF Routine that I use with parents and why I dedicated a whole chapter to it in my book – The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child.
You can listen more about The U URSELF Routine and Food by clicking the link below.
When shopping it’s a mystery trying to decipher the jargon on food packets, and often, we just don’t have the time. But it’s worth taking a course or reading a few books on nutrition though, as what we think is healthy or low fat often isn’t and those foreign looking words can be confusing and can have many different names for the same thing, that are hard to identify.
For example did you know that there are 65 names for sugar?
We may associate sweet foods with sugar, such as biscuits but what about bread which usually contains added sugars or those healthy looking ready made tomatoe soups?
SHARING IS CARING
As a committed, lifelong learner, I believe sharing knowledge is powerful in helping to positively change the world we live in. But I know as parents, we just don’t have enough knowledge or information on good nutrition and the impact that poor nutrition can have, both short and long-term. So, I’m going to make it my mission to help parents overcome this barrier to their child’s health and wellbeing. Future blogs will centre heavily on the effects of nutrition on physical, emotional and intellectual development, if this is something you want to learn more about, then don’t forget to sign up to our blogs and newsletters and please join me on this journey.
Happy St David’s Day or as we call him in Wales -Dewi Sant, the patron saint of Wales.
His monks spent their evenings in prayers, reading and writing, which sounds like absolute heaven to me. As he taught his followers to refrain from eating meat, today, I have decided to cook the children my favourite leek and potato soup, and of course leeks are his symbol and our symbol of Wales.
CAWL – LEEK AND POTATO SOUP
Peel and dice about 8 medium small potatoes
Melt a knob of butter in a large pan
Wash and chop up about 8 baby tender leeks or 3-4 large ones
Chop an onion
Add onion, leek and potatoes to the melted butter and cook for a few minutes until soft (not brown)
Add 850 ml of vegetable stock and bring to the boil then put a lid on and simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes.
Add a good grounding of black pepper to season.
Take off the heat and then blend. I like a simple hand blending stick or if you’re making under 4 portions you can use a soup maker with slightly less ingredients.
Enjoy with a crusty whole meal baguette or bread roll.
Leeks are also a tasty super vegetable that give us vitamins- C, A, B complex, and minerals- potassium, calcium and phosphorus, providing lots of health benefits such as- cell function, energy and healthy bones. The super starch white potato also offers- B6, B12, C, Folate, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Thiamine vitamins. As well as minerals – magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and iron, good for electrolyte balance, cell and collagen production, bone health and heart function.
MY LITTLE WELSH GIRL
When my daughter was young, she loved helping me to make cawl (soup) and dressing up on St David’s Day. She had a Traditional Welsh Girl outfit. It had a lovely black bonnet with white ribbon that she loved.
She loved it so much so that, she kept nagging me to let her wear it to bed at night.
Of course, this would end up in a huge argument, as I tried to convince her to take it off and put her pyjama’s on!
Then one night, after much debate, I decided to use a little reverse psychology and agreed to let her wear it to bed.
After about ten minutes, she came running out of her bedroom.
Asking me to take it off her and put her pyjamas on, as it was so itchy and uncomfortable.
Job done, I’d given in and won!
When we allow our children to make their own choices, they lack resistance. And when given the option, they usually choose not to do the things, they thought they originally wanted to do.
They must feel free to make the choice though. It’s important that they feel that we have no resistance or strong preference what they do, either way.
They then realize they no longer need to fight against us, as there is nothing to fight about.
When there’s no resistance, everyone wins.
But if we always say ‘No!’
Or we get confrontational, our children will persist and inevitably someone will lose.
Choosing our battles wisely, enables us to identify the times when it’s ok to let them have their own way.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Our children have a reason behind how they behave. They just can’t always articulate or understand it.
That’s why it’s best to choose our battles wisely.
If we follow the footprints in the snow, we’ll usually find the Gruffalo, but often discover there’s a different story at play.
We need to get a clear perspective of the situation first, by staying Present and Proactive.
This will help us to find out the reasons behind our childrens behaviour, rather than focusing on the behaviour itself.
Then when we discover the source of their behaviour, we’ll know how best to coach them in another direction, or when not to get involved.
You can find out more about coaching your children’s behaviour in my audio book, The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting, link below.
Peripartum cardiomyopathy (or PPCM) happens during pregnancy, usually starting between the final month of pregnancy and the first five months after giving birth. In PPCM the woman’s heart becomes enlarged and its pumping action weakened.
PPCM is similar to dilated cardiomyopathy, in that it affects the left ventricle of the heart. This is the main pumping chamber of the heart: pumping blood out of the heart and to the rest of the body. Normally the left ventricle pumps blood out of the heart efficiently, with enough pressure to reach all areas of the body. In PPCM, the left ventricle chamber becomes enlarged. As the ventricle becomes bigger than normal, the muscular wall becomes stretched and thinner. This makes the muscle weaker which, in turn, means that it works less well.
Why is it important now, in the midst of a pandemic?
Even without the pandemic it’s an issue that was overlooked, despite the damage it can cause to women and their families. Symptoms are often missed or misdiagnosed. But when you add the pandemic lens, people are less vigilant as their focus is on Covid symptoms, and are less likely to seek medical help. Because awareness of the condition is currently so low, opportunities to detect and treat PPCM early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk.
75% of people mistake symptoms of heart conditions as ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy
Cardiomyopathy UK urges the public and healthcare professionals to recognise cardiac symptoms in women and take action to cut maternal deaths
70% of people are unaware of serious heart conditions that can develop during and after pregnancy
75% of people think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ to experience during and after pregnancy
55% would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19
Cardiomyopathy UK launches Beating for Two to raise awareness of serious heart conditions, like peripartum cardiomyopathy, that develop during and after pregnancy
Cardiomyopathy UK has launched its new campaign, Beating for Two, to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening heart muscle disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), which can develop during the last part of, or in the first few months after, pregnancy.
New research commissioned by the charity shows the majority of people (70%) are unaware that serious heart conditions such as PPCM can develop during and after pregnancy. And in a small survey of patients and the family of those who have been diagnosed with PPCM, prior to diagnosis, 98% were unaware that serious heart conditions can occur during and after pregnancy.
While people are better at spotting more obvious cardiac symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations, three quarters (75%) of those surveyed think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy, and 66% wouldn’t seek medical help if they were to experience them.
Some of the less obvious cardiac symptoms, which often get overlooked but could signal a serious heart problem, such as PPCM, include:
tiredness completing everyday tasks
shortness of breath when at rest or lying down
sudden swelling of the ankles
excessive and rapid weight gain
Top reasons people gave for not seeking medical help if they or a loved one were experiencing PPCM symptoms include ‘assuming the symptoms are ‘normal’ during pregnancy’ (58%), ‘assuming symptoms will go away on their own’ (32%), ‘fear of being viewed as overreacting or fussy’ (29%) – something which is higher in women than men (32% to 26%) – and ‘feeling guilty for using the NHS’s time’ (24%).
The campaign is timely and of paramount importance as the data shows the pandemic has had an impact on people’s behaviour, with 55% saying that because pregnant women are in a higher risk category, they would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19.
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of maternal death in the UK, with PPCM accounting for one-third of cardiovascular maternal deaths. However, because awareness of the condition is low, opportunities to detect and treat the condition early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk.
When showing concern over symptoms, 45% of those in the Patient Survey who have been diagnosed with PPCM, were told symptoms were ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy.
Through its Beating for Two campaign, Cardiomyopathy UK wants to make it easier for women and their families to spot the signs of PPCM, and to feel confident seeking medical help sooner.
Survey respondents indicated that, if they knew more about which symptoms were ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ during and after pregnancy, 66% would feel more confident raising concerns with a healthcare professional.
The charity also wants healthcare professionals to ‘think heart’ when considering symptoms, and to ask about history of medical problems that run in the family to ensure PPCM symptoms are not being mistaken as ‘normal’.
Joel Rose, Chief Executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, says:
“During pregnancy, an expectant mother’s heart is put under additional pressure as it adapts to keeping two humans alive. This incredible organ is beating for two, but we don’t always give it the recognition and attention it deserves. While PPCM is thankfully rare, its effects can be devastating if left undetected.
“However, the condition is completely manageable if caught early and most women who are diagnosed live healthy and fulfilling lives.
“We know women often put their needs to the bottom of the priorities list, but we urge people to trust their instincts and to watch for signs that their heart might be struggling to cope, during pregnancy and after birth.
“If you feel that something isn’t right speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor.”
Cardiomyopathy UK is working hard to ensure better recognition of the symptoms so that every woman with PPCM is diagnosed in time to manage the condition safely.
Sascha Wells-Munroe OBE, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, says:
“It is vital that any woman with any cause for concern about her or her baby’s health speak to their midwife or maternity team without delay. It can be easy to think that symptoms like tiredness or shortness of breath are ‘normal’ but, no matter how big or small a symptom might be, please seek advice – the NHS is here for you.
“Alongside our NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ maternity resources, campaigns like Cardiomyopathy UK’s ‘Beating for Two’ provide critical reminders that it’s just as important as ever to seek help from maternity services and it’s so crucial that women and healthcare professionals alike ‘think heart’ to make sure no opportunities to keep women and babies safe and healthy are missed.”
For more advice and information about the signs and symptoms to look for, and what is ‘normal’ and what is not during and after pregnancy, visit: http://bit.ly/2YmaUF4
About Cardiomyopathy UK
Cardiomyopathy UK is the national charity for people affected by the heart muscle diseases cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. We provide support and information services, work to raise awareness of the condition, campaign for better access to quality treatment and promote research.
It seems unlikely that schools will reopen until March. For many of us parents that means -continued, pandemic, parenting, problems.
Home-schooling’s one daily grind we’re all struggling with and our frustration is at its breaking point. Many of us feel like giving up but its best to stay involved and take baby steps.
They’ll learn a lot more from little and often than from not at all.
So, here’s some pointers to help guide us when helping our children to learn;
Every child will have a preferred way of learning. Identifying their preferred method or modality will make learning more interesting and fun.
Listening—this is called ‘Auditory learning’.
Watching— ‘Visual learners’.
Others prefer a more, hands-on approach— ‘Kinaesthetic learning’ also known as ‘tactile learning’ by doing.
There’s always more than one way to learn, that’s why there’s no need limiting our children to ‘the right way’ thinking. Allow them to explore all the options and to choose one that feels right to them. By doing things differently to the norm, our children become more flexible and comfortable in new learning endeavours.
RELEASE THE PRESSURE AND HAVE FUN
Pressure to perform and achieve is what causes children anxiety and what sucks all the ease, fun, and enjoyment out of learning something new. When children are having fun, it doesn’t feel like learning, and If they don’t have any obvious expectations imposed upon them, they become free from the burden of being perfect and relax. Relaxation is the key to creativity and clear focused thinking. Having fun in the process makes things easier for us and more enjoyable for our children, so try playing games as opposed to lecturing or just reeling off answers.
LET THEM LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES
It’s natural we want our children to do well but if we become too involved and take over, we miss the point of what the learning objective is. When children are set school work, the whole point of the exercise is for our children to learn from their mistakes by doing it themselves, and enjoying the process.
Our children have to have a why.
Why do I need to know this?
The answer to that question becomes their motive, which is vital because the key to motivation in life is having a motive.
Why? What? Where? When? And How? All are incessant questions of our young. If we can just keep answering these, they will be constantly learning something new every day!
DON’T BE AN OBVIOUS TEACHER
If they are disinterested in learning activities, we need to ask ourselves the following questions;
Is this appropriate for my child’s age or stage of development or am I reading such a simple book, my five-year-old could read it to them-self?
Is the content/activity interesting?
Am I engaging my child enough?
Am I actually interested myself, or am I bored and disinterested?
Do they think there’s a purpose to the activity other than having fun or spending time together?
Have I taken them away from another activity or toy that they were enjoying playing with?
The biggest influence that we can have is our own enthusiasm and interest. When we are engaged, learning comes to life and stimulates them more.
so many of us get frustrated easily when teaching our children, particularly when we’ve already taught them how to do something and they get it wrong. Let’s say they’re learning how to read. Just because they could read the word ‘dog’ yesterday, doesn’t mean they’ll remember it automatically today. They may still get confused and call it ‘bog’ the next day, d and b are the same as learning anything else, they take time, and are easy to mix up and confuse.
We think it’s easy because we can read already, and have more than likely read daily for many years, which adds up to a lot of reading practice.
Reading is still new to our children though. It’s like us learning a second language such as German, and someone expecting us to know and recognize words straight away. Then whenever we forget or get a word wrong, they get annoyed with us. I doubt we would still feel encouraged to carry on learning the language then?
Nothing is easy for our children, unless they can do it, in which case, they wouldn’t need our help in the first place.
Welcome back all 😊 we hope you had a lovely Christmas?
This year we have a new website address and email.
Don’t forget to add this new address to your safe senders list, so your newsletters don’t go to your junk email box, as from now on they’ll be sent from this new address.
It’s been a tough few month for all of us but we are slowly and steadily getting through this pandemic together. Thanks for all your support. We would also like to thank the children too as we know it’s a very difficult time for them as well, especially with the schools being closed. Although we have endeavoured to make this time as ‘normal’ as possible, it’s not easy occupying children of various ages, altogether for full days, without any trips out to the park or soft play. There’s no break to the day, not even to go on school runs, so we have been couped up indoors due to Lockdown and the weather. I’m sure the children have had enough of hearing – ‘Stop jumping on the sofa.’ Lol 😊
It’s understandable that they’re trying to expend some energy and that they will bicker with one another too. We’ve made a special effort to instil the sharing mentality during this lockdown, this is a difficult concept for pre-schoolers. To help with these issues, we’ve practised some guided meditations to aid relaxation and to relieve worries. The children have taken to this very well and stayed the whole 25 minutes for each meditation, doing the actions and keeping their eyes closed.
ACHIEVEMENTS & SHOUT OUTS
One of our little ones has done amazingly with her potty training, well done, we are so proud of you 😊
Our littlest has learnt to stand and walk independently and is increasing his steps day by day! He also recently celebrated his 1st Birthday.
A massive thank you to those parents who have taken the time to buy, read and review my books. I’m so grateful for the support received and very I’m proud that both of my books have achieved Amazon, worldwide best seller status. Notably, The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child received a staggering 2, 061 downloads over 4 days. The Confident Parents’ Guide also achieved International Best Seller Status across 13 categories in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany [achieving at least Top 10]), including 8 #1 ranks across the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany, and International Best Seller status across an additional 6 categories in the UK, Australia, France and Germany (by Amazon’s Top 100 standard).
The Powerful Proactive Parents’ Guide to Present Parenting, achieved International Best Seller Status across 9 categories in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia [achieving at least Top 10]), including 5 #1 ranks across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, and International Best Seller status across an additional 7 categories in the aforementioned countries, with the inclusion of India (by Amazon’s Top 100 standard).
I’m also really excited that both of my books will be featured in the spring and summer editions of Mums and Tots Magazine, following the Q&A I wrote for them on Managing Expectations at Christmas in their winter edition.
We hope that this worldwide situation will improve in the coming months.
At the beginning of every New Year, I sit down and plan my year ahead. I write down my dreams, desires and goals.
Then I compile a list of ‘To Do’s’ to help me achieve them, which usually motivates me to get going.
To get busy weaving my dreams into reality.
But one thing 2020 has taught me is that, even my best laid plans can go awry. Although I had big goals for last year, the most important ones I achieved were not through planning or doing but through unforeseen circumstances and just going with the flow and ‘being’.
Spending more family ‘Us Time’ present in the moment and feeling relaxed and content just doing nothing, happened naturally during lockdown.
Having time to get both of my books completed and published arose from a misfortunate Covid-19 set of circumstances, forcing me to close my childcare business for months.
Appreciating friends and family more was another side effect of being kept apart from those I loved.
And being grateful for everything I had, such as my business, my home and family became enough to make me stop and see that- I already had everything I needed and wanted in life.
So today on January the 1st 2021, as I sit in the warm glow of sweet-scented candlelight, notebook and pen in hand, ready to plan 2021, there’s only one goal on my list this year and that’s simply to enjoy each and every moment with those I love.
Well Christmas is fast approaching and New Year is looming ahead. Many of us I’m sure will be happy to see the back of 2020!
With My Mother and Stepdad being in hospital poorly with COVID-19 for a couple of weeks, I know I will. Thankfully they came home two days ago but their homecoming was a bitter sweet moment for me as, the day before I had received my late brothers ashes, a stark reminder of the balance between life and death and the glue of love that holds us all together. But with the UK being the first to administer this new COVID-19 vaccine last week, we’ve a lot to be hopeful for moving into 2021.
For that period when they were in hospital with Covid -19 everything seemed so uncertain and I just want to thank everyone at the Heath Hospital Cardiff for taking such good care of them both. I’d also like to thank everyone for your support and well wishes. I hope that you and your loved ones will be able to spend time in the ‘present’ together, enjoying the festivities in your own little bubbles.
WHAT GIFTS CAN COME OUT OF COVID?
More than ever before, I’m sure we can all now appreciate everyone in our lives and the gifts they share with us. If 2020 and COVID-19 have brought us anything positive, let it be the gift of awareness and being present at all times with those we love. This Christmas we can all appreciate that, it’s not about the ‘presents’ but about ‘being present’ that counts. Being grateful for those people in our lives that bring us love and joy and weighing up the real gifts we receive of health, love, friends, family, food and shelter.
This year has been heavily imbued with seriousness. COVID-19 has caused a lot of worry, stress and anxiety. But as parents this Christmas, let’s try to lighten up a little and not take everything too seriously. We won’t win any prizes for being the most serious parent, but we will win the support of our children if we have fun with them.
Who cares that; we’ve burnt the turkey, we couldn’t secure that one sell out toy or didn’t get the right gifts, or that there’s no Christmas party and our toddler won’t eat sprouts?
Lets try not to sweat the small stuff – and as Richard Carlson reminds us ‘…and its all small stuff’ anyway. In the grander scheme of things and with the current world pandemic, none of that is important. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t control everything that happens in life. So, let’s let go of control and learn to relax and go with the flow a bit more to reduce unnecessary stress.
KEEP STRESS LEVELS DOWN?
You can do this by taking daily you time (U Time) for yourself to just relax. Whether that’s a soak in the bath after a long day or sitting down with a cuppa, taking time to breathe, in the here and now and get organised in your head, reduces stress.
YOUR CHILD IS A GIFT ENJOY THE PRESENT
Our children are the present, they are a gift to us, and they are here with us now, at this present moment in time. And Present Parenting (devoting our time and attention in the present moment) is the best gift that we can give to them.
It’s never about what we do as parents, it’s how we do it, how we feel, and how our children feel as a result that matters. And making sure our time together is happy and relaxed and that we look forward to it as much as our children do.
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. 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.
We can practise this whenever our children wake us up early in the morning. Instead of getting annoyed, we could welcome their presence as the best wakeup alarm there is, reminding us that it’s another fresh, new day, and that we are alive, well, and loved.
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?
Besides, the daily commute to work/school/shops or wherever else we need to go, it still takes a journey to get there, whether we stop to notice all the splendour around us or stress out about the traffic.
If only for today, let’s try to think more childlike.
It may sound a bit childish at first, but being more childlike is the core to being present.
As a Mum myself I know this can be difficult and Christmas comes with such high expectations from everyone, but Life, Covid-19 or not, will never be perfect. Neither will we ever be perfect parents or have perfect children. ( If you’re interested in why we wouldn’t want perfect children or to be perfect parents? Or would like to know the benefits of coaching behaviour and managing expectations while being a ‘Present Parent’, we are offering a limited amount of free, review audio books to our readers and listeners, from the release of our audio books on Audible and iTunes. If you’d like to review a free audio book of – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting, or you know someone else who maybe interested, email me
firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email you a free code:-)
In the meantime, to remain calm amid the chaos, stay present- it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Christmas is a special time for family and friends to come together and enjoy. Forget everything and focus on the here and now. When mindful in the moment, you’ll start enjoying time with your child. Forget what you didn’t do or buy and stop worrying about how tomorrow will work out.
Christmas is a memory making moment, make happy Christmas memories your child will cherish, and enjoy this time yourself. Build that Lego castle, watch that family movie together and stay present in each and every moment.
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying ; “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
Our world has suddenly turned into an uncertain place recently, causing a lot of anxiety for everyone but how will that impact our children both now and in the future?
The early messages our children receive will determine whether or not they grow up in a friendly or hostile world.
Life is not all doom and gloom, but if our children are being exposed to bad news every day, then they may start to believe it is.
We should take care to protect our young, innocent children’s impressionable minds. Regular exposure to such negativity could cause nightmares, and some sensitive children could become fearful, sad, or depressed.
We do not, however, need to hide the truth from our children or try to protect them from hearing about anything unpleasant. Quite the opposite, it’s actually beneficial that they are aware of both the good and the bad news.
Yes, bad things happen in the world but so do good things too. We just need to give our children a more balanced outlook and show them what’s good about life more often than highlighting the bad news, and inform them of the dangers without leaving them feeling fearful.
Recently I was asked how we can help explain ‘Stranger Danger’ to pre-schoolers without causing anxiety. You can find the full article in the autumn issue of mums and tots’ magazine. https://www.mumsandtots.ie/
But one of the best ways I’ve found to communicate messages to young children is through books. Being an author myself I may be biased but stories and picture books are more relatable to young children.
As parents we want our children to be able to relate well to others but we hear so much bad news that, we fear them being out of our sight for a second. And this fear can transfer onto our children. But this blanket fear can do more harm than good. If we tell our children strangers are dangerous, they will quite literally believe every stranger is and this can cause separation anxiety.
Most young children are naturally cautious of strangers, because they fear they’ll be taken or come to some harm when their parents are not around. This can become extremely difficult when they come to start childcare, nursery or school, and can often cause sleeping problems if the child has to sleep without the parent.
We can help our children overcome these fears or we can reinforce them. How we react and how we proactively prepare them for the unthinkable -they go missing, is also is key.
If on their return we panic, scream and shout or worse physically and emotionally punish them, we increase their fears. As Parents we may want our children to get this message so they don’t repeat the behaviour and go missing again but what happens when we need them to go to strangers without us, such as a new babysitter or starting childcare, nursery or school?
Then we will ask them to go to a new, unknown place or person, 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 our own anxieties, worries, or fears onto our children.
Stranger danger is a difficult topic to portray to pre-schoolers, so we have to approach it in a light hearted manner, even if it’s a heavy issue for us. We are so transparent to our children who pick up not only on how they see us behaving but also on how they feel our emotions (yes, our energy radiates outward and our young children pick up both our good and bad vibes) The best way to do this is to use stories, songs and rhymes that are age and stage appropriate for your child. I love the old classic Never Talk To Strangers (Little Golden Books)by Irma Joyce
Because it has pictures that are of animals which young children love and it’s also a rhyming book with the vital repetitive message ‘Never talk to strangers.’ which children love to join in with as I read it. It helps to encourage conversation on the topic of stranger danger too.
Another simple way to try and explain stranger danger to a pre-schooler I found was, using a dog analogy using the example of a friendly dog they like, that’s familiar to the child and comparing that dog to a strange dog in the playground.