Managing Behaviour, PARENTING TIPS, PLANNING AHEAD, PLAY, Powerful Parents, STRESS-LESS PARENTING, Us Time

Half Term Hel…p!

Well, if like me you live in Wales, you’ll be half way through half term by now Yippee!

You’ve probably done the cinema, soft play and visits to Gran’s, you’ve bought half of Asda’s toy aisles and your home is a complete and utter mess.

Like most mums you’re probably willing on Monday and praying there’s no inset day you’ve forgotten!

Well done you for getting through the toughest few days, now it’s time to chill out.

So, here’s 3 ways to help you through the next 3 days!

1) ENCOURAGE BOREDOM

Sometimes, we give our children too much choice, and this can overwhelm them.

We think giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we’re keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.

Their choice of what they want to play should be for them to freely choose but if you follow your child’s every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they’ll be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished, what’s next?’ continuously flitting from one activity to another.

Sometimes we just have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.

We can’t do this if we keep providing things for them to do. They have to learn how to amuse themselves and become creative.

So, think less is more when it comes to play, less intervention, less toys, and more freedom and imagination.

Toys today are designed to do everything so our children don’t have to think. Dolls now talk, wee, eat, and cry, cars and trains move by themselves powered by batteries, electricity, and computers, nothing is left to imagination anymore. Even physical books are replaced by e-book readers, so there’s no need to even read the words on the page with audio books. Everything is already done for them, but is this better for our children?

We’ve got to allow our children the privilege of boredom so they can discover imaginative play again. There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, so when children are left to play out in the garden, they say there’s nothing to play with. We had no kids TV channels when I was growing up and certainly no computers or phones to ‘play on’ we played out in the rain with fresh air. And I look back fondly on those memories of the ‘good old’ days.

But even today, children can have just as much fun playing in the garden, having picnics in the park, or playing with a cardboard box than they do with a computer. They have to be given these opportunities and experiences though.

The absence of a TV, mobile phone, or computer can make our children feel bored because they’re used to this type of stimulation, and they can’t play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they’re bored.

I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’

2) CHORES NOT CHOICE

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

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

Ironically, we help alleviate boredom by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too. This is probably something we’ll struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer, or TV? You’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!

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

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

3) JOIN IN

When was the last time you had some real fun playing with your child?

As grownups we have so many rules and we often try to impose these rules on our childrens play. But there’s no rules to playing. We may feel we have to take them to soft play or the cinema so they can ‘be occupied’ or ‘do something’ but what fun is that for us?

Do YOU really have fun watching animated films or watching tired, teary, toddlers fighting over the balls in the ball pit?

Us Time should be about engaging in fun together, it’s not about spending money or going anywhere in particular.

A spontaneous walk in the woods spotting squirrels is just as good as any day out.  You can find adventure anywhere when you look for it and you can relearn from your child how to enjoy doing that too. Stick or conker collecting, climbing trees and finding objects hidden in the clouds, are all fun, free ways to engage with your child.

Regardless of what we do with our children, if we’re having fun, then we’re playing.

It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.

Genuine play always feels good as it replaces control for freedom, anxiety for laughter, and learning for entertainment.

Stay Present, Em x

Christmas Calm, Managing Behaviour, STRESS-LESS PARENTING

TIPS FOR KEEPING CHRISTMAS CALM

It’s that crazy, chaotic time of year again, when we spend a couple of months preparing for one big day!

And with so many expectations around the ‘Perfect Christmas’ its no wonder we all feel so overwhelmed.

But here’s some tips for keeping Christmas calm this year.

PREVENT OVERSPENDING AND OVER BUYING

Children don’t understand the financial cost of gifts, they value things on the value they have to them entertainment wise.

They like to play and experiment with toys, which usually means expensive things get broken. So, a good trick is to look at any new toy that we give a child as broken already. This money saving technique will prevent overspending on expensive toys while gift shopping. Making a list of what you’re buying beforehand, also helps. Then, wrap gifts straight away, keeping a note of what you bought for whom and how much it cost, to prevent over spending and last-minute panic buying.

PREVENT OVERSTIMULATION AND OVERWHELM

Routines are key. Children need to know what to expect, when, where and why more than ever during the holidays.

Work things around your child’s regular routine, not around anything or anyone else.

Stick to regular bedtimes and mealtimes, while offering plenty of warnings and reminders of what’s to come.

And spread the joy, anticipation and appreciation for visitors, sweet treats and gifts, over a few days, rather than in one go.

MANAGE YOUR OWN STRESS LEVELS

All that shopping, spending, wrapping and prep can be stressful, so don’t forget to take some daily U Time for yourself to just relax. Whether that’s a soak in the bath after a long day or sitting down with a cuppa, taking time to breathe in the here and now and get organised in your head, reduces stress.

Take our Mumatherapy Stress Checker Quiz now to check your stress levels

TRAVELLING TO VISIT FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

This year many of us will want to visit friends and family to make up for last year’s Covid restrictions but the mere thought of this maybe making you feel anxious.  If so, plan ahead now to ensure you and your partner are not stressed with one another. Your energy (and anxiety) will rub off on the little ones, so calm kids need calm parents when travelling. But you can still expect some bored and restless behaviour along the way and if you have more than one child, there’ll be squabbling too. This is normal but you can help alleviate some of it by making regular stops for a feed, to stretch legs and take toilet breaks and making the journey a fun experience, by listening to their favourite songs or pointing out the scenery and playing games such as; count how many red cars you can see or spot the mini, and taking along activities such as colouring books or digital devices.

AVOIDING THE EMBARISSMENT OF TODDLER TANTRUMS WHEN VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS?

Be proactive in pre-empting your child’s moods and emotions and get everyone in your team. Let friends and family members know your child’s routines and triggers. And to prevent any undue attention, remind everyone beforehand that your child may act childish (kids are childish, so you don’t need to feel embarrassed by other people unrealistic, expectations of your children) and encourage grownups to just ignore any carrot flinging episodes or melt downs at bedtime.

HOW TO BALANCE EXPECTATIONS WITH REALITY?

Keep your own expectations realistic and stay present in the moment and forget what you didn’t do or buy, and stop worrying about how tomorrow will work out.

Christmas is a memory making moment, make happy Christmas memories your child will cherish, and enjoy this time yourself.

Build that Lego castle, watch that family movie together and stay present in each and every moment, that’s the real gift that keeps on giving.  

Until next month,

Stay Present, Em x