GUILT FREE GOALS, MUM GUILT

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

PARENTING TIPS, STRESS-LESS PARENTING

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

MUM GUILT, PLAY, Recreation, SELF-LOVE

ARE YOU RECREATING?

The word Recreation means to recreate, and we can do that as much as children love to, actually, we’re re-creating our lives every day, but we are often unaware that we are doing so. Sometimes, this means we create experiences that are not always fun or just, well …. humdrum.

But if we can create the boring unwanted stuff, then it stands to reason we can also create more fun in our lives too.

Children are master creators with vivid, unlimited imaginations that allow them to become anything and anyone, from a random object such as a chair to an Alien from Outer Space, nothing is off limits in their play.

It’s this natural ability to shut off reality and enter play that offers them an essential form of escapism. A safe haven from stress, anxiety, and worry. Helping them to make sense of events and the world they live in, and to digest and learn new concepts at their own pace.

Recreation can be called many things such as; leisure, hobby, pastime, exercise, play, activity, amusement, sport, even work!

But play never actually feels like hard work.

How we feel and our concept of time, is how we can differentiate real play, from any other experience.

Play has the ability to immerse and stimulate to the point we lose track of all time and reality. Play throws caution to the wind and allows anyone at any time, to do anything, no matter how silly or unconventional.

Regardless of what we do with our children, if we are having fun, then we’re playing. It’s not the activity that counts, it’s how we feel when we do it.

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

When was the last time you actually played?

U Time is not a luxury but a daily necessity that you not only deserve but NEED.

Do you work so hard that you forget to make time to rest and recuperate?

Do you feel guilty spending time or money on yourself?

You can read more about U Time and how to rid yourself of Mum Guilt in my article in the latest edition of Mum and Tots Magazine out now in newsagents, supermarkets or online. Mums & Tots – Ireland’s Favourite Maternity Magazine (mumsandtots.ie)

If you put U time off, you risk burning out, which actually stops you from working efficiently, productively or to the best of your ability.

More play prescribed!



When this happens not only will your work suffer but so will you and your family. Do something today just for you, that makes you feel good. Book that massage or hairdressers appointment, buy that new book or album you would like to listen to and relax.

🧘‍♀️ If you need help scheduling U TIME or would like some R & R, why not book a Mumatherapy session today and receive 20% off any booking for a Friday or Saturday in September.  There’s also PMR (PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION) sessions FOR ONLY £25 during September if you book now using code JULY-PMR.

What does PMR do for you?

It’s like a massage for your mind.

PMR -It’s like a massage for your mind!

email me Emma for info or to make a booking 👩🏼‍💻 emma@happychild.care

 Mumatherapy℠ – Happy Childcare

Stay Present,

Em x

Behaviour, FOOD, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, HEALTHY EATING, NUTRITION

FUSSY FISH- How to Increase Your Child’s Brain Potential.

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.

If you are listening to this on our podcast you can find images along with the accompanying blog on our website http://www.happychild.care

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

Wild Pacific Salmon, Smoked Haddock and Cod, Parsley Sauce and Boiled Potatoes.

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.

Such as,

 ‘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.

You can also read my latest contribution in the Spring issue of Mums and tots magazine, featuring a 3 page excerpt from my book, on sale now.

Mums and tots spring issue out now.

Stay Present, Stay Proactive,

Em x