GUILT FREE GOALS, MUM GUILT, Proactive Parenting, U Time

HELLO 2022- GOODBYE MUM GUILT

Mum guilt will never leave us alone, no matter what we do. If we work to make a better life for our children, we feel guilty we aren’t around enough, if we stay home dedicating all our time and attention to them, we feel guilty we can’t afford to give them what everyone else has. 

We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

But why should we feel guilty for pursuing our own interests and having a life of our own?

Going to work to progress our careers or make money, is part of Proactive Parenting and essential to a healthy, balanced life. Working helps us to increase our own self-esteem and confidence and gives us much needed goals.

And daily U Time for ourselves to join the gym, have a bath, read a book, enjoy a glass of wine or massage, go out for a meal or for a manicure, or pursue a hobby or course, is essential to our overall wellbeing.

Life is not just about working or raising a family. We get one life and fun should be a part of it.

A GUILTY BUSINESS

Yet, being a parent can be a guilty business if we let it. It’s usually the most loving parents amongst us who experience it the most. If only we could extend that love onto ourselves more often than guilt?

And if only our children felt this guilty whenever they woke us up in the middle of the night for no reason, or whenever they humiliated us with a tantrum in a busy supermarket. But they don’t. (You can read my latest article on managing tantrums –BIG Little Feelings, in the Winter edition of mums and tots magazine on sale now.)

A NICE STYLE

No parent ever wants to see their child upset, and our children know this and can be very clever and creative in instilling us, with a guilty complex. So too can our boss, spouse, and even our own parents.

 It’s a technique, and each will have their own style;

  •  An angry style, ‘It’s all your fault!’
  •  A feeling sorry for themselves, ‘It’s all my fault.’
  • Or the subtle style, done in a nice, yet underhanded way.

My daughter had a nice style. Instead of risking a ‘no’ and asking me outright for whatever she wanted, she nicely instiled guilt before-hand.

Such as the time she said to me;

‘Oh, Mum can you…? Oh, never mind, it doesn’t matter.’

‘What?’ I asked, intrigued, in the middle of doing something else.

‘Well, I was going to ask if you would paint my nails, but I know you’re too busy and I don’t want to take up your time when you could be doing something more important.’

Horrified by her words, I instantly dropped what I was doing and happily painted all of her little fingernails, as I explained that I was never too busy to do anything for her.

In fact, I told her I enjoyed doing it.

It was only later as I guiltily mulled it over with my husband, that I realized I had nothing to feel guilty about. 

He pointed out to me that my daughter knew exactly what she was doing, and that what she said would make me feel guilty enough to do what she wanted me to do.

I’d fallen for the guilt trip, even though I’d done her nails for her and had nothing to feel guilty about, yet, I was still carrying those words ‘Too busy’ with me, while indulging in my guilty complex hours later.

AN ENDLESS LIST

Mums feel guilty about almost anything and everything.

Guilty about working, not working, spending money on yourself, having a childfree night out, putting your child in childcare, saying ‘No’ to your child when they want something, telling them off/being too strict or too soft, not being able to afford the Christmas presents they want, choosing the wrong school, Mum/Dad for them, living in the wrong area, not taking them out on day trips/holidays or spending enough quality time with them, not realizing they were ill/being bullied/underachieving at school, making them do homework, not being able to make their school sports day/Christmas concert, etc…etc…

Boring I know, but that guilty list is endless as a parent.

Feel free to carry on with your own long list, if you feel in the mood for making yourself feel like an awful parent.

In fact, you may find this exercise cathartic, even funny, who knows, let’s try it? 

GUILTY RUBBISH

  • Grab a pen and notebook and a cuppa while you’re indulging in some guilty ‘U Time’.
  • Now, list as many things that you either have or have not done for your child, or about your role as a parent, as you can manage in the space of five minutes that makes you feel guilty.
  • Think of everything that pricks at your conscience, tugs at your heartstrings, or tickles you as much as a bash on your funny bone. Go on, indulge in your guiltiness until you feel really bad. Let all that guilt flow, get it all out of you, out of your head and onto paper.
  • And then …. rip that lists up into tiny pieces and let it all go.  Throw it away with all the other useless rubbish in the bin. Make sure you put it in the rubbish bin and not the recycling though; you don’t want it coming back in some other form one day. You want it out of your life for good, out where it belongs with the rest of the rubbish, in the refuse dump until it disintegrates.

GUILTY BUSTER

Guilt’s a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, channell your energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause you guilt.

Start by trying this next guilt busting exercise;

  • Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
  • Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
  • And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
  • Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?

You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?

Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.

YOU NEED U TIME.

We all need time and space away from our children occasionally, to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands. Whether that’s a night out with friends or a weekend away with our partner.

The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it wouldn’t be enough. Their need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.

It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.

CHILDREN NEED U TIME TOO!

We never need to feel guilty, as children also need U Time for themselves too.

Time with their own thoughts to play, ponder, and daydream is vital.

So, what? Maybe you do work more than most building a career or business to support you family or dreams, or maybe you choose to stay home and bake cakes all day with your little ones. It’s your life, it’s your choice, and neither one is right or wrong.

2022 marks the beginning of a new guiltless way of living, where we stop punishing ourselves. It’s time to realise your value and what you contribute, rather than focusing on what’s missing or wrong. Guilt just doesn’t serve us or our children, so we don’t need it sucking our energy any longer.

Happy New Year Muma, 2022 is for you!

Stay proactive,

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

PARENTING TIPS, Proactive Parenting, Routine, STRESS-LESS PARENTING, The U URSELF Routine

5 Proactive Pointers to- STRESSLESS PARENTING

Back to school and work, where routine should now be falling back into place. But with this comes school runs, after school activities, weekend sports, homework and a million and one other things.

When tired or stressed simple things like not having their PE kit washed for school can easily tip us over the edge.

Being proactive is the only way to prevent this.

What exactly is Proactive Parenting?

It sounds like a word you would find in business books—that’s because it is!

We have to approach parenting like running a successful business, if we want to be a success at it and produce successful children.

Simply put, it’s; planning ahead and pre-empting our childrens needs, and taking action to prevent unwanted situations arising, instead of reacting to them once it’s too late.

I know as mums we’re too busy to read, so if you’d like to hear more about Proactive Parenting you can put you feet up with a cuppa and listen to the audio book, available now on Audible below.

Reactive parenting is when all the tears, tantrums, and struggles happen, making us feel powerless, as if our children and their behaviour is out of our control.

So here’s 5 Proactive Pointers to put you in control, without being a controlling parent.

1. The Night Before

To alleviate the morning panic and chaos, decide what everyone will wear and lay school uniforms, PE kits, bags, shoes, homework etc.. out the night before. And make lunches or put the dinner money in an envelope ready.

Ironing school uniforms in the morning when running late is a nightmare!

To save time and stress, choose an hour or so a week (I personally love Sunday mornings to do this) to blast through the ironing pile in one go, and ask your child to read their schoolbooks to you as you iron (of course never leave the iron unattended while children are around). Then that’s homework and iron ticked off in one go. 🙂

Alternatively, pay someone else to do the ironing?

2. Delegate Chores

Affordable ironing services will pick up and drop off ironing and the time and stress they save makes up for the cost.

Shopping online to save time parking and packing can also help.

So can getting the kids to help around the home. Children like to feel grown up. They enjoy sorting the clothes into colours, putting the washing machine on, and pegging the clothes on the line.

When we include them, we’re not multitasking them with chores because they’re enjoying the process.

The difference is the way in which the task is approached and how we treat them. Instead of our children competing with the vacuum cleaner for our attention, while we scream and shout at them over the noise, we can involve them in what we are doing. We stress-less and get help to complete chores, while  enjoying some fun ‘Us time’ together.

3. Do it Now

Make a habit of dealing with things as soon as you can, instead of saving them for later, so  they don’t all stack up to be an insurmountable mountain, that you have no energy to tackle.

Check your diaries and to do lists today, and do all the things that can be done now.

If there’s too much that can be done now, is all of it necessary?

If not, can you get rid or delegate it?

Having to buy or make a costume for our children’s Christmas concert, for example, is much easier and far less stressful, if we tackle it the day we find out about it. I’ve often set the school letters aside and thought; ‘I’ll do that nearer the time, at the moment, there’re more important things to do today.’

Then before I know it, the costume has to be taken into school the next day for the show, and I have no time or resources to make one and no time to shop around or get one delivered from the internet either.  

Think now or never when you get that letter!

4.    SAYNO’ TO TIME TAKERS

Time Takers  come in all sorts of disguises, they’re not always people but all have one thing in common, they need you, but you don’t need them.

They can be jobs that need doing, places you have to go to, commitments you don’t need, want or enjoy. Feel free to make your own list, as this will be invaluable in taking that time back in the future. Here are some examples to kick start you off:

• Your boss asks you to do over time.

• Your partner wants you to entertain their friends.

• The dog needs a walk.

• The school needs a volunteer.

• Family is coming to visit.

• There’s a course you must take.

• A friend wants a gossip.

• Email & Social Media notifications keep going off.

• Your Sister needs a babysitter.

• Your Dad needs help with the gardening.

• Your Mum needs a lift to the hospital.

• The housework/decorating needs doing.

All can feel like they urgently need attending to, and all are worthy, loving acts, but you don’t have to be the one who attends to them all, all the time. Doing too much can feel like you’re being stretched beyond your limit, and this scattering of time and attention, anywhere and everywhere, can result in you going nowhere and doing nothing fast.

It’s about learning to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty or upsetting other people, and like anything else, it gets a lot easier the more you practice saying it.

We need to practice saying ‘No’ more often to others, and stop saying ‘No’ to ourselves.

5. Routines

We know what we should be doing to help our children, but often, we just don’t know how or where to start?

Well, routine Muma is the place.

When we’re busy, stressed, and short of time, routines guide us in the right direction, so no one’s confused about what they should be doing, when, and why.

But what routines exactly do our children need?

A routine which includes;

Recreational play time,

Sleep,

Exercise,

Love,

Food.

Routines create a clear route for us to guide our children. You can read more about The UURSELF Routine here

Of course, no route is ever straight forward, so be prepared for the occasional detour in the form of a sleepless night or change in appetite.

In the meantime, if you’re struggling with a fussy eater, you may be interested in my latest article in mums and tot’s magazine, Autumn issue out now.

If you’d like more proactive parenting /childcare tips, don’t forget to sign up to our monthly newsletter 😊

Stay Present, Em x

AFFIRMATIONS, BELIEFS, Esteem

AFFIRMATIONS

Where negative statements can be accepted as true in our children’s mind, so too can positive statements. We call these Affirmations, and they can be used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, or reaffirm something wanted, bringing about positive thoughts and feelings. They’re positive statements said as if they are already true.

As adults we may feel a bit silly saying them at first, but children are less self-conscious. They’ll find affirmations a fun way to program their minds and to plant and grow positive suggestions in their subconscious. But what’s really great is if they can accept these positive suggestions while young, then there will be less reprogramming to be done as they get older. 

To encourage this habit, they need to think of a positive statement in the present tense that they can relate to. The language needs to be simple, using words they would use in everyday speech and that’s appropriate for their understanding. If too complex, they’ll be less likely to understand or take the statements on board. It’s better they choose their own affirmations they feel comfortable with saying, these can be written if the child is old enough, to compliment and reinforce the verbal affirmation but are best said aloud repeatedly. They need to be short, simple, positive, uplifting, motivating, and believable. Such as; ‘I am now learning more and more every day.’ Repetition is key to affirmations and the more they practise using positive affirmations, the easier they get and the better they start to feel about themselves and their capabilities.

This probably won’t surprise you to know, but while children are speaking and thinking positively about themselves, it’s impossible for them to think negatively, and then fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and frustration disappear.  This is useful if they are struggling in some area, such as learning how to read, instead of listening to their self-defeating mental chatter, they can replace it with positive self-talk and could say; ‘I enjoy learning how to read, reading is fun, and I am now finding it easier and easier to read.’ 

We can clearly understand how this approach is more helpful than what children usually say such as;

‘I can’t read, I hate reading, it’s hard.’ Convincing themselves with their own words that they cannot read, not realising that they are the ones holding themselves back. Children confuse lack of experience and confidence in something, such as reading, as a lack of ability, and believe they do not, cannot, and will never be able to do it. Any mistakes they encounter only reinforce this, knocking their confidence further, we can minimise the risk of this happening by introducing our children to affirmations.

I like the affirmation bowl. Write out some affirmations on some post it notes and mix them up in a bowl and ask your child to pick one each morning and evening before bed. Then notice how their behaviour and  language becomes more positive and how their self- esteem and confidence improves.

Stay Present,

Em x

BOOKS, Esteem, ROLE MODELS

EASTER ESTEEM -FEATURING HOP

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.

Esteem is so important to children. That’s why Esteem is part of The U URSELF Routine.

WHAT IS SELF ESTEEM?

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.

Hop Children’s Picture Book.

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.

You can read more about boosting your child’s Esteem in my book The Confident Parents Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Successful Child.

Happy Easter,

Em