ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

SLEEP LIKE A BABY THIS WORLD SLEEP DAY

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?

CALM COLOURS

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.

LIGHT NIGHT

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.

TEMPERATURE TROUBLES

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.

OVERTIREDNESS

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.

The U URSELF 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

Or alternatively you can listen to my audio book through Audible just click the link below

BE ON TIME

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.

BE QUIET

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.

PAIN

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.

ENURESIS BEDWETTING

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

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!

Stay Present,

Em x

ANXIETY / FEAR, BOOKS, CHILDMINDING, Esteem, Home Schooling, Proactive Parenting

Approaching children’s fears using Books with Heart Felt Messages

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/

Emma Grant holding Mums and tots Autumn 2020 issue.

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.

‘Never Talk to Strangers’ – Happy Childcare Story time!

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.

Happy Childcare Big Splash Circus Story time!

Big Splash Circus is 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

Until next time, Stay Present!

Em x

Thanks Photo’s by Kelly Sikkema Katarzyna Urbanek on Unsplash


ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, PLAY, Recreation

Half term holiday help!

LETTING GO OF CONTROL

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

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

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

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

We can do this by acknowledging that our children’s behaviour can be inappropriate and hard to manage or understand sometimes and accepting that’s okay—we don’t have to control it.  If we persist in trying, we’ll only end up frustrated and exhausted. This is when all the toil and struggle in parenting occurs.  

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

As soon as we learn to let go, we will feel a lot lighter, calmer, happier, and oddly enough, a lot more in control.  Our children won’t end up out of control if we cease to be controlling.  As long as they have fair, reasonable rules and consistent routines in place, there is no need to worry. Rules and routines replace control with love and guidance and discipline for coaching. Creating less restraint and resistance.  We can feel safe, then, to let go of some of that unnecessary control by trying out the following exercise.

LEARNING TO LET GO EXERCISE

  • Today, choose fifteen minutes to spend with your child when it’s safe to let go of control and relax. The only time you should intervene is if they are about to do something dangerous to themselves or others. As a proactive parent, your home environment should be a safe place to do this exercise but be more aware and vigilant outside.
Be Present but don’t control their play in any way.
  • In that fifteen minutes, choose to let it be okay for you to let go of controlling the situation. If, for example, your child is painting or making a mess, pulling all their toys out everywhere, allow them to. It’s okay for those fifteen minutes, you don’t have to control anything.
They can paint the town red…all is well in your world.
  • Really feel relaxed. If you are finding it difficult, remind yourself it’s only fifteen minutes, and whatever it is your child is doing, it’s not the end of the world. They are just having fun, and you’re enjoying the freedom of not having to stop them or tell them off. You know that you can easily clean any mess up later on. If your child gets dirty, they can have a bath afterward, and washing machines were invented to clean dirty clothes. But for now, you don’t need to worry about any of that. Yes, even the crayon on the wall or playdough on the floor. You can just RELAX!

This is your chance to let go for fifteen minutes. Relax and refrain from throwing fuel on their fire. Just step back and watch them and silently say to yourself ‘It’s okay’ as you take in a few deep breathes and exhale slowly. Try not to breathe in and out too quickly or too shallow though, you don’t want to end up hyperventilating.

Over time, as we practice doing this exercise, we will soon realise that nothing catastrophic has happened. Then, gradually, we will master this art of feeling relaxed around our children, no matter what, even when we venture outside in public. 

Happy Shopper!

The more often you practice this exercise, the easier it will become. Even if they are throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, it’s still okay.  When they finish throwing a tantrum (and believe me, they will probably stop before the fifteen minutes are up, especially if we are staying relaxed and not reacting to them) then we can just carry on as normal and do our shopping as if nothing happened.

Happy half term 😉

Stay Present,

Em x

AFFIRMATIONS, ANXIETY / FEAR, Esteem, Proactive Parenting, Starting School

BACK TO SCHOOL

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.

PLAY THE AS IF GAME

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.

ENCOURAGE SLEEP

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.

PROMOTE EXERCISE

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.

AFFIRMATIONS

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 welcome you to join us here.

Next week we will meet little Archie the pint sized entrepreneur, that turned a home schooling project into a profitable business!

Until then, Stay Present,

Em x

ANXIETY / FEAR, Proactive Parenting, SELF-CARE, SELF-LOVE, U Time

LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF

There’s a true saying;

 ‘If you don’t love yourself, then who will?’

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.

LOVING YOURSELF THROUGH YOUR CHILD’S EYES 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.

Close your eyes and imagine.

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?

Are they;

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 emma@happychildcare.club so I can see the demand for such a group or not.

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x