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?
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.
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.
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It’s like a massage for your mind.
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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.
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.