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.
So, a typical example would be;
‘Well Zoë, you don’t need to be afraid of all strangers but you shouldn’t go anywhere alone with them or let them touch you. It’s a bit like Benji our dog, you know Benji… well, he’s friendly and wags his tail and jumps up to greet you to play, he never hurts you. But if you see another dog you don’t know, say in the playground when you are playing, he may not be friendly like Benji is, he may hurt you, so it’s best not to touch him or let him touch you. Not all dogs are unfriendly but not all dogs are like Benji, some do bite and it’s the same when you meet a stranger.’
There are many good children’s books out there, that can relieve children’s fears and increase their self-confidence and esteem, written by positive, motivational authors such as the late Louise Hay’s, The Adventures of Lulu or inspiring books by Dr Wayne Dyer such as Incredible Me or No More Excuses. All of these portray positive, life affirming messages. They also help our children to deal positively with the real problems in life too.
I recently read all the children I care for a wonderful new picture book, that encourages children to find their special talent called, Big Splash Circus by Karina Choudhrie. It is a beautifully illustrated and designed picture book that all the children ranging from 10 months to 8 years loved. It’s an adventure in a fun-filled undersea world, full of characters and with a heart-felt message for young children about inclusion and using your special skills.
Big Splash Circusis a place of inclusion, where everyone can take part and discover what makes them special, from acrobatics to music to making people laugh. The sea creatures in the circus are like a classroom full of children – where they all get a chance to shine! (Big Splash Circus is published by CandyJar Books and is available in hardback (£11.99) and paperback (£5.99) at all good bookshops and online retailers.)
As parents we have the power to direct our children’s attention positively. To help relieve anxiety at this unsettling time, instead of electronic devices and the media exposing our children to what’s happening in the world, we can counterbalance those messages by sharing positive books with heart felt messages in. You can read more about this in my book – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting
Half term already? Feels like they’ve only been back to school five minutes!!!
As most of us in the UK are experiencing local lockdown many mums are feeling the anxiety of being stuck at home with the kids again. How are we going to keep them entertained, happy and under control?
Well the good news is we don’t have to control them at all.
In fact, too much control can restrict our children’s potential to become autonomous, decision making, happy, and healthy individuals. And the reality is, we can’t control our children’s every action or emotion even if we try. It’s difficult enough trying to control our own actions and emotions, let alone our children’s. That’s why the only solution we really have is to release some of that control.
We can do this by acknowledging thatour children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it. If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs.
As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control. Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling. As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance. We can feel safe, then, to let go of some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.
Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent, your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more aware and vigilant outside.
In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward, and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!
This is your chance to let go for fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.
Over time, as we practice doing this exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then, gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no matter what, even when we venture outside in public.
The more often you practice this exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, it’s still okay. When they finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing happened.
Becoming vegetarian is something I’ve thought deeply about recently. When coaching clients, removing meat from ones diet and eating more fruit and veg is something I always promote for health, weight loss and longevity. But one question I was recently asked by a soon to be mum was –
‘Is a vegan diet healthy when you’re pregnant?’
So to answer this question is Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory. Warning – there’s mouth watering food pics from Stem + Glory throughout this post!
Veganism on its own tends to attract advice and comment from family, friends and so called ‘experts’, albeit largely well-meaning. It’s interesting that when you throw vegan pregnancy into the mix, and suddenly it becomes about moral choices. Veganism is ok it seems when it’s our own choice, but can be questioned when we are dealing with an unborn child. The idea that we are omnivorous and therefore a vegan diet cannot be safe in pregnancy is a fairly widely held view.
This is a view that I, and many others, wholeheartedly disagree with. My own experience with being vegan during pregnancy is that it was completely normal. I was almost 40 when I became pregnant with my first daughter. I was very fit and healthy. My diet at that time consisted of mainly vegetables, small amounts of (mainly) wholegrains, lots of tofu, lentils, nuts, seeds and beans, and I continued eating in exactly the same way throughout my pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, no cravings, no complications, no deficiencies and delivered both my children safely at home. I said to myself when I first became pregnant that if I craved something in pregnancy, then I would eat it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any cravings.
When writing this article I started wondering if my experience was an isolated one, or if in fact many vegan women experience completely problem-free pregnancies. I spoke to seven women who had been vegan through pregnancy (sometimes multiple pregnancies), and here is what they told me:
Can you get the right nutrition?
All of the vegan women I spoke to were very well researched on the subject of vegan nutrition. They were all aware of the need to increase protein intake in pregnancy by 10-20%, and did so with greater attention to eating balanced meals. Not all of them ate protein rich foods such as tofu, with many preferring natural, pulses, grains and vegetables. One of the women had a pre-existing iron deficiency which was managed through pregnancy, but none of the others developed an iron deficiency. One of the women not taking supplements increased her iron levels during pregnancy.
It is recommended in pregnancy for all mothers to take folic acid. With regard to vegan pregnancy it’s also recommended to take B12 and vitamin D. For both pregnancies, I did take a pregnancy multivitamin, and the recommended folic acid. Half of the women I spoke to did take supplements, but half did not, only taking the recommended folic acid.
Angie, who was pregnant twice 33 and 40 years ago, and has raised four vegan children, says she “just ate sensibly, mainly fruit and veg. I’d been vegan for 13 years before I became pregnant and had never been unwell so assumed all was ok.”
This was echoed by Lee who has been through two pregnancies; “Didn’t even think about nutrition, I just followed what my body craved and had zero nutritional issues.”
Helen, who has been vegan for many years, said: “I always try to follow a balanced diet. Supplements are recommended to pregnant people of all persuasions. I took vegan vitamins and iron before, during and after my pregnancy.”
Emma, who had been vegan for five years and continued to be vegan throughout her entire pregnancy said: “My iron levels were tested as standard and I was told the results were fantastic (without supplementation). I only supplemented folic acid, an algal oil omega 3, spirulina (for B12) and a probiotic, all of which would be useful to supplement in any pregnancy, whatever the diet. The omega 3 was a ‘top up’ since I was already consuming foods such as walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds etc. Throughout my pregnancy I ensured I was receiving the correct nutrition in the same way anybody would, I consumed a healthy diet. I don’t like the way people like to make out that vegans are thinking at every meal about where they are going to get certain nutrients from, it’s nonsense, no one does that.”
Neither myself nor any of the women I spoke to reported any nutritional issues during their pregnancies.
What are good vegan foods in pregnancy?
The women I spoke to also all followed a wholefood natural diet during pregnancy. None experienced cravings! Two of the seven experienced severe morning sickness and lived on toast for the first trimester. Two were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the second trimester which they managed successfully on a wholefood vegan diet.
Soups and stews were frequently mentioned as ‘go to’ meals. Often mentioned were Marmite, tofu, tempeh, brown rice, aduki beans, lots of fresh organic veg, nuts, miso soup, peppermint tea and ginger.
Helen opted for bland but healthy: “When I had morning (all day) sickness I ate a lot of baked potatoes, as I didn’t fancy much else. Luckily potatoes have vitamins in the skin, and so I felt they were better than other bland things. I supplemented potatoes with vitamins and iron. I also remember eating dried mangoes, cucumber, and miso at some points, and drinking orange juice. When I recovered from the morning sickness, I ate a lot of everything.”
For Holly who was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester, nut butters were a life saver due to their high fat/protein and low carb content.
Danielle developed cholestasis in her second trimester which meant she could only eat low fat foods “so the vegan diet was great for this”.
Tracey who had severe morning sickness treated it with “lots of miso soup, peppermint tea, fennel seeds & crystallised ginger”.
Atma was vegetarian when she became pregnant, but took the decision to go vegan. “Now I was carrying my own child it brought the ethics of the dairy trade to the forefront of my mind, I was unable to ignore it any more” Atma had previously studied macrobiotics, and when diagnosed with gestational diabetes in her second trimester was able to control the diabetes by applying macrobiotic principles. Not only did her bloods stabilise, but she felt happier, healthier and more clear headed than ever before.
Do pregnant vegans feel healthy?
They do! None of the women I spoke to had any issues with energy levels, and outside of the complications already mentioned, without exception all the women felt healthy during pregnancy. They felt the gestational diabetes was easier to manage on a vegan diet.
Emma said she continued to be vegan whilst breastfeeding and had a wonderful pregnancy with no issues whatsoever: “I wasn’t sick once, I had no cravings, I felt great the whole time, had energy, my skin was the best it’s ever been and I continued to work-out throughout the entire pregnancy. Postpartum I was told I had great colostrum, since my baby only lost 70g initially and I had a plentiful supply of milk, the health visitor actually said I had too much!”
Danielle: “I am very strong and the muscle of the household, even when pregnant if something needs lifting, I’m your girl”. I echo this and was practising and teaching ashtanga yoga until days before I had my first child, and full of energy throughout both pregnancies.
What do the health professionals think?
Now this really did give me a pleasant surprise. Every single one of the women I spoke to remarked on how helpful and understanding their health care team were of their vegan diet. Not one of them, including those with gestational diabetes, was advised to eat animal products.
Helen’s experience was consistently positive: “Two health professionals guessed I was vegan and were highly supportive. My first midwife appointment went something like this: ‘Have you read the list of things you need to stop?’ ‘Yes. I don’t smoke or drink or eat those things anyway.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Excellent, I won’t need to persuade you to eat more fruit and vegetables.’ The second was a health visitor at my child’s one-year review. The conversation went something like this: ‘What is your child’s favourite food?’ ‘Tofu.’ ‘Are you a vegan then?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Please tell me which cheese to buy. What is the best milk? Where do you eat out?’
Emma: “I didn’t tell the midwives that I was vegan because I expected a negative response that I didn’t want to have to deal with at that time. However, in hospital after the birth the team were very supportive in providing me with decent vegan food.”
Says Che; “in my first pregnancy one of my Midwives was vegan herself and brought vegan biscuits to the antenatal classes. Second time the midwife was very supportive and unphased by the veganism. If anything, my GP and Midwives said ‘well, you don’t eat any of the stuff you have to avoid anyway so that’s good’.”
Two out of the seven women I spoke to however remarked on how terrible the vegan options were whilst they were in hospital!
So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, don’t let the myth that we need animal products put you off sticking to your plant-based diet. Eating a healthy vegan diet during your pregnancy can be good for you and your baby – and as there aren’t any vegan foods that are on the ‘no go’ list during pregnancy, you won’t have to give anything up either.
Thank you for contributing this very interesting piece Louise.
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning restaurants Stem & Glory; hip and trendy but accessible plant-based restaurants, serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients, 100% made on site. Stem & Glory also offers click-and-collect and local delivery in London and Cambridge. www.stemandglory.uk Lets hope these restaurants find their way to Wales, the food looks amazing.
If you enjoyed this blog post or any of our other posts this year then- please, please nominate us in the – Online Influence Awards 2020 in the parenting category you’ve got until Friday Night 9/10/2020 to enter here below-
They will ask you for our Twitter (@EmmaGrantAuthor) and Instagram (@emgrantauthor) handles in brackets.
I love the 2nd part of this home-schooling, success story of how stepmum Amy, inspired 7-year-old Archie to become a mini entrepreneur. Last week we chatted to little Archie about his experience of home-schooling during lockdown, this week we get a grown-ups perspective.
PART 2-AMY’S STORY
It began as part of a home-schooling project. Amy Frost bought a few chickens for her stepson Archie. The aim was to teach seven-year-old Archie about animal welfare and husbandry, as well as where food comes from.
Whereas some families found children resistant to home-schooling, this project turned out to be perfect for Archie. He threw himself into looking after the chickens and was soon collecting far more eggs than the family could eat. So, a business was born selling eggs and his lessons solidified about the importance of local food. He even set up a website up, running, a two-week waiting list and orders started pouring in.
“I needed to find a new way to get Archie excited about maths whilst also helping him understand how it could be transferred to real life. Archie loved the chickens we had recently introduced to our home, so we decided to run a home-schooling project about the hens. For example, we wanted to teach him what they need to survive, how many eggs they can produce in a year, why it’s important to care for the chickens with kindness and love, and the difference between ‘free range’ and battery hens. I felt there was an enormous amount of education surrounding just this one project.” explains Amy.
What’s been wonderful about sourcing the local produce is meeting new people, and how enthusiastic and helpful they have been about helping us to educate Archie about how they grow, produce, and make the food. Many have been kind enough to show him around and demonstrate how they work. We hope to bring that education to all our customers in the future.”
“Many locals couldn’t get a delivery at the height of lockdown and were left relying on neighbours to do their shopping, so although not financially viable at the start, we made a conscious decision to deliver to a wider area so that people were not left without food. If they asked, we delivered, even if it was outside ‘our area’.” explains Mark.
“We have been overwhelmed with support from the community – from suppliers, customers and even other local businesses. We have customers sharing our website with friends and neighbours and buying produce as gifts, we have suppliers who have sadly lost so much of their catering trade during Covid and are open to working with start-ups like us, and then we have other local founders who are sharing their equipment to help us grow.
After hearing Archie’s story we were curious to find out more, so here’s what Amy had to say to the questions I asked her recently.
EMMA) What was your initial thoughts on home schooling?
AMY) We were excited about the opportunity to do home-schooling. Although it seemed daunting at first, Mark and I felt we had an opportunity to really get involved with Archie’s learning. It was clear when home-schooling began that we had never really fully known what Archie was learning at school. For example, we had always been told the subject matter, but never the tasks, which made helping and supporting Archie with homework relatively difficult. So as soon as the home-learning tasks began being sent through, we were thrilled to finally be able to understand what he was learning at school and we felt much more informed to be able to support him at home.
EMMA) Where did you get the idea to buy chickens to help Archie and what did you initially set out to teach him?
AMY) Our decision was based around taking him out of the ‘classroom’ environment of the kitchen table, and creating projects that were more hands on and lifestyle based. Archie is great with his school work but his focus became all about sport and he was starting to disengage with the daily subjects of maths and literacy, so we felt that doing something totally different like learning how to look after the chickens would teach him animal husbandry, along with using the eggs to learn his multiplication, adding and subtracting. We had already tried to incorporate sports with his maths learning, such as ‘Maths Tennis’ where we would shout out the times table for every ball we hit, and he learnt his 3’s and 4’s doing this, but as with anything when teaching children, we needed to keep it fun and different.
Our little Chicken Care project developed into a wider range of education that has now taught Archie so much from a ‘school’ sense but has also developed his confidence massively. For the first time he stood in front of 8 children, whom he didn’t know, and led a talk on looking after his animals. This was all through choice, he wanted to explain to them why looking after animals is important. Prior to Archie starting this project he wouldn’t have felt confident doing that.
EMMA) That’s amazing, children feel more self-confident speaking about something they feel passionate about. Do you think schools should offer this more hands on, real life approach to learning, as opposed to sitting in classrooms being taught from text books or media?
AMY) I absolutely believe in children being given the opportunity to have experiences which aid their development. Taking Archie to a local lettuce supplier where he can see, feel and smell the lettuces, speaking to the farmers who educate him on how the food is grown and what happens afterwards, and then in turn completing a project about his experiences which he shows to his family and friends, all supported his memory of the education and ignited a passion inside of him. Maybe it was more fun because it wasn’t the norm, but by using all his senses, experiencing rather than just reading, he took more onboard, listened and learned.
I have worked with many young adults who have been afforded the opportunities to experience working in businesses and on farms for therapy and counselling, but it seems we are not teaching young people life skills to really support them in their adult life. Nor are we giving children the opportunity to have experiences which can teach them, in the early years, important facts which will help them make their own choices as they grow. For example, we have used Archie’s Produce to teach Archie nutritional benefits of food, what is healthy and what is not, what he can feed his chickens and what is bad for them, in the hope that he can make informed decisions based on his own knowledge rather than being told what not to do.
EMMA)I absolutely love that, I even write in my book-The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child- (CHAPTER 9 – FOOD- MAKING A MEAL OF MEALTIMES) about the fact many children these days think that their food originates from a supermarket and about the benefits of children being involved in growing their own food and learning about nutrition. And I also agree that children need these therapeutic experiences too, to help them learn in new, more relaxing and enjoyable ways. Some children are not academic but hands on learning can help us overcome so many barriers to our children’s success.
AMY) Emotionally these experiences have taught so much, including confidence, empathy, care and to think about subjects, which prior to this, he had not considered. We must bear in mind that Archie is only 7, nearly 8, so the level to which he is learning now is very different to a teenager, however I strongly believe that there is a huge advantage to experiencing learning in a varied environment to keep children engaged and initiate alternative and question-based thinking. It’s certainly worked for Archie.
EMMA) What advice can you share with other parents who are home-schooling to help make the home-schooling experience feel more creative, fun and enjoyable?
AMY) Oh Goodness I’m not sure I’m qualified to offer advice! Many of our friends put an immense amount of pressure on themselves and their children to complete all the tasks set by the school and to keep their children up to a ‘level’. At one point I also felt that pressure and worried that by doing home-schooling slightly differently, were we letting Archie down. All I knew was that I wanted Archie to have fun, after all, school is supposed to be fun! However, we’re not school, so we broke the rules a little:
We played music whilst we drew pictures and made plans, we played the bongo’s and danced when doing music practise, we had reading practise when researching types of food chickens can’t eat, for the most part, learning together and not putting a time limit on tasks really helped. We had regular snack and treat breaks, we added in some enjoyable tasks such as bike riding and football as part of the project. So, once we relaxed about the administrative tasks and took out the pressure of having to learn, or write, or read, those three factors happened naturally.
EMMA) Wow I love this approach so much, again it’s something I’ve covered in my book mentioned above (in chapters 10 – LEARNING FUN FOR EVERYONE and 11 – THE SEVEN STEPS TO SUCCESS.)
Do you feel home-schooling has brought you and Archie closer together?
AMY) Yes absolutely. I’m really lucky that we have such a wonderful relationship, but without a doubt having the opportunity to be able to home-school has enabled us to learn so much more about each other. It has also allowed us to be creative and share new experiences together.
EMMA) It would seem lockdown has had hidden blessings for many of us regarding growth, development and contributions to society, what impact has that had on you all?
AMY) The growth of Archie’s Produce has really opened up a series of conversations from where our food comes from and healthy eating, to the way we school our children and educate each other. Little did we know when we started this project how incredible the impact would be and we are extremely grateful to be able to have a little input into hopefully some major future shaping. We genuinely are a lockdown business and were born in a time when most of our suppliers had lost over 90% of their customer base overnight. The catering sector had closed, the only avenue left for them was retail and most local shops were unable to open. So, we felt a huge moral obligation to both our customers, who couldn’t leave the house to get to the shops, or shops were empty, and suppliers who had no outlet to sell their products. The support of the local community is why so many local businesses have survived, and why customers could eat, so as we are now coming out of lockdown, and trades and businesses are re-opening, it is even more imperative that we continue to support the local businesses, producers and farmers, for they are the ones that work tirelessly to save us when crisis hit, and they more than deserve our continued support.
EMMA) Amazing, well thank you so much Amy for sharing with us your experience of home-schooling. I think there’s lots of great nuggets of advice and insight there to help us all be more proactive as parents.
If you’re a parent who would like to know more about proactive parenting or who enjoys blog interviews, you maybe interested in an interview that I had this week with – The Shelf Life Book Review
Now children are returning to school, there’s a sigh of relief in the air for some that home-schooling’s over- Hooray! 🙂
But for others, it’s been a real opportunity in many ways.
I spoke to one Mum, Amy and her step son 7-year-old little Archie, about their experience of home-schooling during lock down. This week’s blog is part one of that interview. What an inspiring story from little Archie’s perspective.
PART 1- ARCHIE’S STORY
Here’s how 7-year-old Archie went from home schooling, to pint sized entrepreneur.
The 2020 lockdown changed most people’s lives in one way or another but one seven-year-old went from home-schooled little boy to pint-sized entrepreneur over the course of a few months. And, for Archie, the chicken did come first!
It began as part of a home-schooling project. Amy Frost bought a few chickens for her stepson Archie. The aim was to teach seven-year-old Archie about animal welfare and husbandry, as well as where food comes from.
Whereas some families found children resistant to home-schooling, this project turned out to be perfect for Archie. He threw himself into looking after the chickens and was soon collecting far more eggs than the family could eat. So, his entrepreneurial journey began as he decided to sell them locally. With the country in lockdown, eggs were difficult to get, and very soon Archie had a waiting list of 30 people wanting his eggs.
Next, he did his maths, and persuaded Amy to buy 6 more chickens. Still he struggled to keep up with demand, and then customers started asking if he sold other local produce too!
Rather than sticking just to eggs, Archie was inspired to expand his venture and look around for more local produce to sell. Together he and dad, Mark, and stepmum, Amy sourced a variety of local products, starting with Alderholt Flour – straight from the local historic Mill. And Archie’s Produce was born.
Having learnt his lessons well about the importance of local food, Archie was keen to get his produce from local producers only, and that gave the business the local edge it needed to succeed. Within a few days the young man had a website up, running, a two-week waiting list and orders started pouring in.
“It was Archie who suggested we try to find other families who keep chickens and see if we could buy from them to fulfil the customers!’
Here’s what else he had to say when I recently interviewed him.
HERE’S WHAT LITTLE ARCHIE HAD TO SAY TO SOME OF THE RATHER GROWN-UP QUESTIONS I ASKED HIM.
EMMA) What did you first think about home-schooling?
ARCHIE) It was fun and I got to play. My favourite subject was P.E because I played lots of football. Then ‘Tennis Maths’ because it was outside and I like Tennis. I like writing poems so we made up songs that were funny. It was fun. Then I learnt about the Hens and I could do lots of arts and crafts making boxes for them and stamping the egg cartons!
EMMA) That sounds like lots of fun, not (school) work at all! When did you realize that you were onto a good business venture and how did you persuade your parents to buy more chickens and expand the business to other produce, such as flour?
ARCHIE) When I had run out of eggs to sell, but lots of people still wanted eggs, I needed more hens and so daddy bought 6 more, but that wasn’t enough. Then I said we should find someone who also has chickens, buy their eggs and give them to our customers. Customers asked for extra food like flour. I was happy adding things to the shop because then we can deliver the food they can’t get.
EMMA) So entrepreneurial yet considerate at the same time. How many different types of produce do you supply now and are you looking to add any more to your list?
ARCHIE) I want to be the biggest shop and sell everything! I have lots of different food; salad, meat and vegetables to New Forest Shortbread and Fordingbridge Fudge. The cows down the road make the best milk and have won awards! They are the best!
This week we added the children’s milkshakes from their milk called Meggy Moos. Named after the little girl called Meghan. I want to keep adding different food so everyone can buy something they like.
EMMA) Wow that’s great ambition you have Archie, I hope you always think big! And I’m sure you’ll have something for everyone, that fudge and shortbread sounds divine. Why do you feel its important today to support local producers and source locally grown food?
ARCHIE) All the people who make the food have families and work very hard making the food.
EMMA) That’s so very true. You’re wise and have a lot of understanding and gratitude for your age Archie. I’ve always wanted to have hens and produce my own eggs, what advice can you give someone like me that’s never done it before?
ARCHIE) The girls are friendly and love cuddles. They must have lots of water and special food called Pellets. They need to eat Grit so the shells are hard and they like to be free, not in cages, but sometimes they dig holes in the grass because they like ‘mud baths’ so Daddy has to fill them in with other grass.
EMMA) Aww cuddles… I love the image that just conjured up in my mind of me cuddling hens and the thought of them roaming freely. You give us a real sense of how wonderful and so alive these hens are, not just there to fulfil a purpose for us humans but to live a purpose that’s worthwhile to them too. Can you explain to readers what the difference is between ‘free range’ and battery hens?
ARCHIE) Chickens like mine that live free outside and can run around are ‘free range’. Some chickens are stuck in a small house and never get out, they have no feathers and are very sad, they are ‘battery hens’
EMMA) That’s very sad ☹ I hope you sharing your knowledge with us today will encourage more of us to opt for the free range variety in future. How can we find out more about your produce and where you deliver to?
ARCHIE) I’m not allowed to deliver because of Covid, so Amy delivers for me all around Dorset, Hampshire and parts of Wiltshire. You can see everything in shop on my website www.archiesproduce.com
EMMA) I do hope someday delivery will be extended to Wales too? 😉Do you have an entrepreneurial role model you aspire to be like?
ARCHIE) Not really, I want to be a footballer like Ronaldo.
EMMA) Well that’s very possible Archie, I’m sure whatever you put your mind to you will achieve. What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt from this home-schooling business venture?
ARCHIE) To look after things and to help people makes you feel good.
EMMA) Two wonderful lessons that prove that, home schooling can teach our children some of the most important lessons in life. Can’t wait for part 2 next week when, I chat to Amy, Archie’s stepmum and get her thoughts on home-schooling.
Do you have a home-schooling success or horror story or do you have a parenting in lock down experience you’d like to share with other parents?
So, the day has nearly or finally arrived for our beloved little ones to return to school. Yippee!!! I can see all the mums fist pumping the air and doing a happy dance around an empty house right now 😊
I’m sure many children are looking forward to going back and catching up with their friends again. But equally there will be some apprehension for most. Here’s a few tips to boost our kids’ confidence and tackle their anxiety about returning to school during the pandemic.
ADDRESS OUR OWN ANXIETIES
Children pick up on parent and carers fears and anxieties, so if we are worried, they’ll think there’s something to be afraid of and that they too should be scared.
PAINT A POSITIVE PICTURE
Help them view returning to school optimistically by telling them about the fun things they will get up to, such as painting, play dough, and reuniting with friends. And answer any questions they’ve got to help them feel prepared.
If they can use their vivid imaginations to visualise going back to school positively, they’ll be more inclined to experience that on the actual day. This focuses their attention on what they want, instead of what they don’t want. Getting them to imagine waking up to their favourite breakfast and getting ready in their new school uniform, with their new shoes, lunch box, backpack and pencil case, builds anticipation and excitement, while increasing their confidence and motivation.
RE-ESTABLISH ROUTINE WITH WARNINGS AND REMINDERS
Routines help children to feel relaxed and confident when they’re given notice and know what to expect, when and why? Offer plenty of warnings and reminders fifteen to ten minutes beforehand, such as at meal and bedtimes, to mentally and physically prepare them.
Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. Set a regular bedtime time and routine for a good night sleep, such as, 7pm -bath, brush teeth, bedtime story. Keep to this even at the weekend.
Exercise is important to childrens emotional as well as physical wellbeing. Children who exercise learn and concentrate better at school, improve their memory and release endorphins, reducing or preventing depression or anxiety. Wean them off the screen using the ‘Bursts of Fitness 15 Minute Rule’ For every fifteen minutes of sedentary play, i.e. Watching TV, they then have to take a break to run up and down the stairs/garden/hallway or wherever is suitable and convenient, fifteen times, before they resume watching TV for another fifteen minutes. Repeated every fifteen minutes.
3 HAPPY THINGS
Before bed ask them to think of three thing’s they were happy for in their day, remembering the good parts keeps them grateful and focused on the positives.
THE BOTHER BOX
Prevent worries building up in their head or going unaddressed by creating a ‘Bother Box’. Find an old shoebox and ask your child to decorate it as they choose with paint, crayons, or stickers. Buy a pack of copier paper and whenever they’re bothered by something, encourage them to draw a picture of whatever is bothering them and place it in the box. Then sit down together and go through the concerns in the box. As they get older, they can exchange drawing pictures for writing their worries down on post it notes, or in a journal or diary.
These are positive statements said as if they’re already true, used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, relieve fears and anxiety, and to reaffirm something wanted. If they are nervous about returning to school, affirmations can bring about positive thoughts and feelings.
Ask them to practice saying aloud;
‘I enjoy going to school and playing with all my friends.’
Giving our children tools and techniques such as these, gives them coping mechanisms and preventative tools to manage their thoughts and feelings, before they need them.
Mumatherapy Facebook Friendship Group
As mum’s we also need some support sometimes too, that’s why Happy Childcare has now set up its Facebook Mumatherapy Support Group. It’s a friendship support group for Mum’s that’s intended to be a safe place to air our inner most thoughts and feelings, with like-minded others, in a closed, supportive group. Sharing helpful parenting advice and providing some helpful tools and techniques, to alleviate stress and anxiety and increase confidence and self -esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal is to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It’s also a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable. Please join with an open mind.
We must look after and love ourselves, mistakes, imperfections and all.
If there’s something we don’t love about ourselves, then others may not love that aspect of us either.
Not because it’s not lovable, but because we will transmit the message of how we feel about ourselves to other people that we meet.
Our partners may think we are beautiful, but if we think we are ugly, over time, we will start to dress and look the way we feel.
Self-love shouldn’t be reliant on others loving us though.
We should replace any damaging, empty, unhealthy relationship with another, for a more meaningful, loving relationship with ourselves.
Getting to know who we really are as individuals is self-love. The relationship we have with ourselves influences all the other relationships in our lives, and our love for ourselves is more important than any other love we may, or may not, receive from others.
Fat, thin, rich, poor, happy, or depressed, it makes no odds; you can love yourself regardless of who you think you are, or however your past may have been.
Loving yourself does not need to depend on past or future events or relationships. Anyone can start afresh today and learn to love themselves, no matter what.
It’s the single most loving thing we can do for our children.
We are their greatest asset in life, so we must take good care of our own health and happiness. Should we become ill, we would not be in a position to care for them. Surely If only to keep us in a strong position to take care of our children at all times, that’s all the motivation we need to ensure we love and care for ourselves?
We need to learn to love ourselves the same way we love our children. To help with this, let’s try the following exercise.
Close your eyes for a moment now. Then imagine your child in the future, grown up as a parent themselves with their own child.
How do you see them?
Can you see, hear, or feel them as a kind, caring, gentle, relaxed, patient, and loving parent toward their own child?
Can you hear them enjoying their life, laughing with and loving others?
A responsible adult and parent with honesty and integrity? Healthy, happy calm, relaxed, patient, optimistic, and fulfilled?
Making time for themselves and taking care of how they look, spending money that they have worked for on themselves and others?
In a career they love. Smart, successful, and abundant while being humble, content, and grateful?
Or are they;
Angry, worried, stressed, sad, frustrated, or depressed, struggling to make ends meet and sacrificing their time on the needs of everyone else?
What would you like them to look, sound, and feel like as a parent?
Imagine now that you are their child. What do you want for them as your parent? Love, happiness, abundance, and peace of mind?
Can you feel this overwhelming love, respect, and admiration for them as your parent?
Do you look up to them and aspire to be like them when you grow up?
See them as the parent, putting their arms around you as their child. Listen as they wish you all the good that you have wished for them.
Open your eyes now and be their parent again. The parent your child wants you to be and the parent you wish your child will become in the future.
When we love ourselves the way we love our children, we become a living, loving example. (Or a living example of love.)
When they see us loving and caring for ourselves and addressing our own needs, they reap the benefits of our happiness, and it teaches them how to love and treat themselves.
MUMATHERAPY FACEBOOK GROUP
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve received messages from Mum’s who are feeling overwhelmed with life and motherhood at the moment. Those lucky enough to have partners have shared their feelings only to feel their partners have dismissed them.
When this happens, it can be difficult to confide in anyone else. This can lead to feelings of despair, isolation, loneliness, frustration, anger or jealousy. This can be exasperated by the current world situation where we can no longer just go and seek help in a counsellor or friend easily, face to face. And over the phone or zooming means many mum’s won’t talk about how they are feeling with little ears or partners listening in. So I have been chatting to mum’s about starting a Mumatherapy Facebook group where mum’s can share their thoughts and feelings, real time, and help uplift and empower one another. This can just simply be reading about other people’s experiences, asking questions or joining in to support others. It will be a safe place to air your inner most thoughts and feelings with like-minded others, in a closed supportive group. I plan to share some helpful tools and techniques to alleviate stress and anxiety, and increase confidence and self esteem, such as, hypnosis, guided meditations, EFT and affirmations and quotes. The only goal will be to love one another like you would your best friend or sister, without judgement. It will also be a place to share the joys of motherhood too and your own successes and achievements. A positive place to feel loved, loving and lovable.
If you are interested in joining this free Facebook group please can you comment below or email me email@example.com so I can see the demand for such a group or not.
Lock down has been bitter sweet for many of us. One thing I know a lot of us working parents can relate to is for once- having time.
Time to do what we want such as spending time playing with the kids.
Walking in nature.
Reading, writing, crafting or cooking.
Time to reflect on who we are and what we do and why?
In essence, we’ve had time to play, be creative and indulge in those things normally we have no time to waste doing.
But for some we’ve had to continue to work on the front line and keep our country going, working harder than usual. Whatever situation we found ourselves in during this strange time in our history, one thing is for sure, we’ve all felt a need to embrace some down time more and find ways to occupy ourselves and this is what most of us plan to hold onto leaving lock down when returning to our old lives.
Play is a word usually associated with children.
But the benefits of play are ageless, the only question is, can we remember as grown-ups how to play?
As a child, I had a toy called a ‘Jack in the Box. I loved nothing more than watching as a clown like head popped out to startle me. Despite expecting it, each time, I always felt surprised and delighted. It was simply fun.
Where did that joy of something so simple disappear to?
Where has all the excitement and anticipation in life gone?
Have we grown up and forgotten how to play and have fun for funs sake!
Play encourages laughter, which is well known for its healing and anti-aging properties, a useful side effect for us grownups. And if we enjoy physically active play, it can help keep us fit and healthy. Even non-physical activities release chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, which reduce stress and tension.
That’s why recreation (another grown up word for play) is part of the U URSELF Routine. You can find out more about The U URSELF Routine by taking a look at an interview I had, with the Shelf Life Blog this week where I was asked some really great questions by the lovely Jo.
Or you could win a FREE signed book Giveaway! For The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child (where the routine is covered in detail)
As a thank you to my readers and followers, I’m giving away absolutely free a paperback copy of my book -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95, signed with a special message and sent to the person of your choice, anywhere in the UK, for the first 3 readers who purchase my paperback book- The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting from Amazon UK
Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know;
* How long it took for the book -The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting to arrive, from the day you ordered until the day amazon delivered it to your home?
* That you’ve left a book review for The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting on Amazon UK
* Who you would like me to send -The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child worth £12.95 to, including preferred name, special message and full address inc the postcode.
What a great baby shower gift for any new parent or simply a treat for yourself!
Winners will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on the 28/9/2020 Good Luck!
Or you can buy it today from Amazon above or these places below.
Recreation is vital because, when we take parenting too seriously, we miss out and deprive ourselves as much as our children of all the fun in life.
Life is meant to be fun!
If it doesn’t feel that way to you at the moment, then you’re not playing enough.
Indulging in frivolity when we are supposed to be working, however, can have negative connotations. Others may think we are immature or don’t take our work seriously. But if we stressed less and had more fun in work, we’d take fewer sick days off and look forward to going to work each day, resulting in more productivity.
Children instinctively know how to play. They understand the benefits and enjoyment it brings, it’s their main priority in life.
It was once ours too, so why did we stop playing and having fun?
As grown-ups, have we shut that box closed so tightly, that we are now more afraid of what may not pop out, than what will?
We are all capable of having fun, we just have to entertain the idea of opening that box and learning how to play again.
We are all born to be creative and with our own unique talents. And there’s no better time to express them, was there something you once did or would like to do such as; playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, writing, crafts, tennis, martial arts, carpentry, or gardening?
Have fun, and don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been playing this week? Why not share your fun on social media and inspire other grown-ups too!
Lockdown may have kept some of us apart but if you are fortunate to live with people you love, then give them a hug right now (but please, do not hug just yet those who live outside of your home due to Covid-19).
Did you know that a 10 second hug releases oxytocin, increasing your bond with your child and decreasing anxiety?
That’s why this hormone is known as ‘The love’ hormone.
And that’s why, the next time our little ones push our angry buttons, it’s better for everyone to have a hug.
When our children constantly want and nag and fight for our attention, what they’re really craving is that human, loving, connection. A simple kiss, cuddle and a long hug is all it takes to bring us present together, in the moment.
Being a Present Parent means we are not just there physically, but in mind and energy too. We are focused on one another completely. Everything we do for our children is an act of love. Even listening to them chat about their day at school or childcare or reading them a story. Those things all mean more than money or possessions. But we need to be paying attention, or we’ll miss out as much as our children on some (much cherished in years to come) Us Time (you can learn more about Us Time and The U URSELF Routine in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child and on Present Parenting in The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available now from all good book stockists such as, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble.
Love equals Time and Attention, and that’s the most loving investment we can make in our children’s lives. We can always buy more stuff, but we can never buy more time. Once spent, it’s gone forever.
Love in the moment.
This moment is all that counts. And all those loving moments soon add up!
Our childrens unwanted behaviour is not their fault, they’re not being difficult, annoying, ungrateful or selfish, it’s just more loving ‘Us Time’ they’re really seeking.
It’s not how our children behave or the things that happen to us in life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.
Problems and disagreements are part and parcel of parenting, which we can’t eliminate, but we can learn how to deal with and overcome them.
Offering a reassuring hug, kiss or smile is all it takes to repair a kink in the chain of love that connects us.
Disagreements will always occur in loving relationships, but if we take action to resolve things as soon as possible and are willing and able to work through issues with our children, we strengthen our bonds.
I know this can be difficult when they wake us at two am in the morning, we may know that there are no monsters under the bed, but a three-year-old may not.
At those times, particularly when we are tired and angry, we can unintentionally miss the opportunity to give them an explanation, hug or a kiss, and to make them feel better, especially if they are behaving undesirably.
Yet this is when they are crying out for help, and yes, attention.
Ironically, it’s those times when they misbehave and don’t understand their own emotions that, we end up getting upset and angry with them, when all they really want and need is a cuddle.
Each time we find ourselves overreacting, we can stop and try to shift direction, and replace that in the moment reaction with a hug. It means bringing our awareness back to the present moment, and acting from a place of love. Not automatically reacting unconsciously in the heat of them moment, trying to stop our childrens behaviour.
Once upon a time, we were our children’s number one fan, we adored everything they did. Even a poo on the potty was cause for celebration and hugs of proud appreciation, but as they grow, the focus changes.
But is it our children who change, or is it us who change how we view our children?
BONDED BY LOVE
It’s those everyday acts of love such as cooking them tea and chatting about their day, that strengthens the bond we share with our children.
Expressing our love a little longer than expected, reinforces our love.
Next time, try hugging your child a couple of minutes longer than usual and feel the love transmitted back and forth.
That’s our bonds strengthening and reconnecting us to one another.
Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.
It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.
Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.
We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.
Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.
Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.
Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.
Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN
Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.
Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer.
Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.
Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?
Or give this super summertime soup a go;
Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)
A knob of butter
A stick blender
1 x large peeled and diced potato
1 x large leek finely chopped
A bunch of watercress
600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)
Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)
A generous grinding of black pepper
A dollop of double cream
Then let the cooking alchemy begin
Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.
Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.
Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.
(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)
Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.
Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.
This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.
So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.
TOTAL SUGARS 0.2
VITAMINS A, C, K
Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.
As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)
includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below
Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂
Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.
Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.
There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.
A good routine as always is key.
Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.
You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.
Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.
As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.
If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.
It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.
Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.
Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.
Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.
For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.
Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)
Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)
As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.
One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.
The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!
GROW YOUR OWN
A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together.
Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.
Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.
Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.