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

MUM GUILT, PLAY, Recreation, SELF-LOVE, The U URSELF Routine, U Time

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, CHILDMINDING, MUM GUILT, Proactive Parenting, U Time, WORKING PARENTS

WORKING FROM HOME- PARENTING GUILT

As a childminder I can relate to this mum guilt. Both of my children were born into my childminding business so from day one they had to share me with other babies and children.

MUM GUILT

I suffered from this- ‘mum guilt’ constantly, especially when my children became older and more independent as, they could see me every day caring for babies and other people’s children and I felt they mustn’t have felt special, as I tried to treat all the children equally. So, if another child wanted to play with my childrens toys, in their house, my children were encouraged to share. Sharing your toys with other children is tough enough when you are a baby or toddler but it’s harder sharing your Mum. When they can see you spending your time and energy doing other things or on others, and not putting your attention on them, they can feel unimportant.  

That’s how I can relate to all those working parents who now have to adapt to working from home, whilst also caring for their children. Multitasking the two is very difficult to say the least. When we are visible but inaccessible to our children, it’s like saying to them that they’re lower down on our list of priorities or second best to whatever else has captured our attention.

WORKING FROM HOME

While we are physically around them, they can actually see what is more important to us at that time other than them. Whether it’s working on the computer, taking phone calls, Zooming a meeting or writing up that report, at that moment, they are not as important to us as the thing or the person we are currently occupied with. Most young children don’t understand that we have to work, or even what work really is for, they just physically see us occupied elsewhere, so they do all they can to make us conscious by demanding our full attention, any way they can.  Usually this is seen as misbehaving and we tell them off, adding to our guilt further. But at these challenging times you should go easy on yourself, no one can expect you to do the same job as you would at work while caring for your child, and the bottom line is, none of this is you or your child’s fault so try to enjoy this time together as much as you can.

If you make them feel involved while you are working, you’ll get more done than constantly fighting off their attempts at vying for your attention. If you have to write that report for your boss, give your child some paper and crayons and ask them to write a report with you and  turn it into a fun game, they wont notice you are distracting them if they are enjoying the distraction in your company. When we include them, we are not multitasking them if they are involved and enjoying the process, so let’s get them involved.

Most people can do what we do, with the exception of being a parent to our child. All these things that keep us busy seem important at the time, but it doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life—it’s all a waste of time. It’s who we are with and the time we give that counts in the end!

Luckily, my children never got jealous (that I know of anyway?) they always felt involved and they have embraced all the children I’ve cared for over the past sixteen years as part of their family, even referring to some as bothers and sisters, but I feared it could have gone the other way too and they could have ended up resenting the other children or me, for the business I chose to be in, ironically to be ‘there’ for my kids.

But over the years I’ve reasoned that there were lots of benefits also for my children, and had I gone out to work commuting and working late and not around at all, equally they would have felt neglected. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All parents worry or feel anxious on a daily basis (more so now while we are faced with the Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic).

That’s why I created my Guilty Buster and The Worry Buster Technique exercises in my books, to address guilt and worry. So whenever I was feeling the- ‘Mum guilt’ -I would do the following exercise, one is from book one.

And the other from book 2.

GUILTY BUSTER

Guilt is a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, we are better off channelling our energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause us guilt.

We can start by trying this guilt busting exercise and writing our answers down;

  • 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.

  • Make a list of anything and everything that is making you feel guilty right now and go through each thing on your list and try and turn it into your guilty pleasure. Ask yourself what good reasons can you find for doing/not doing it?

For example, you may feel guilty because you have to work and miss playing with your child.

But your good reason for working is to pay the bills and buy your child the experiences and things they need to grow and develop.

Maybe you feel guilty over a long soak in the bath or reading a book in peace alone?

But you can reassure yourself that time away from your child is exactly what you need to relax and be you again. Giving you the chance to miss them and enjoy their company more when reunited afresh.

This exercise can help you to understand that to regain your sense of self, you need this guilty pleasure.

As a consequence of using your time to do things you want to do, you will feel happier, making you a calmer, more content and relaxed parent.

We all need time and space away from our children occasionally if only to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands.

The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s 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 toward our children for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children. 

THE WORRY BUSTER TECHNIQUE

  • First, think about something that is worrying you at this moment regarding your child.
  • Now, write down all the reasons why it is worrying you, and note how worrying about it has helped the situation or how it has made it worse.
  • Then, work out how long you have been worrying about it, and decide how much longer you want to keep on worrying about it.
  • Next, write a list of all the possible ways that you can try to help solve the problem or make it less of a worry. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of, regardless of how unrealistic they may sound at first.
  • Now, choose one way that you can take action on the problem today.
  • Finally, go and take some action and do something to change the situation now.

Can’t find a solution right now?

Then just decide to relax and step back and accept, for now, the way things are.

Clear your mind of the problem and do something else until a solution comes to mind. Busy yourself with chores or exercise and let the solution bubble away in the back of your mind unhindered by you.

You’ve proactively looked at the issue by doing the ‘Worry Busting Technique’.  Now the only thing you can change is to stop worrying about something you cannot change because if there is nothing you can do about it, then why waste time and energy worrying?

SHARE YOUR LOCK DOWN PARENTING PROBLEMS & EXPERIENCES

Worrying will not help or change anything. After all, most of what we worry about never actually happens anyway, and if we are doing all that we can do right now, then there is no need to worry about anything else.

I hope these simple exercises will help you at this difficult time, as much as they have helped me and the countless other parents that I have worked with in the past in overcoming guilt and worry.

Thanks to those of you that have emailed me for sharing your thoughts on Lock down and parenting, please keep your stories and experiences coming in so I know what to blog about each week that will be most beneficial at this time.

 You can email me;

emma@happychildcare.club

Stay Present, Stay Safe,

Em x

Photo’s by Joshua Eckstein  Vicky Summer  NeONBRAND  Picsea and  Senjuti Kundu on Unsplash

U Time

Returning to Work after Children

Going back to work after spending time at home, looking after the children, can be nerve wracking. But there comes a point for most of us, when we feel ready to get back into it, or feel we need to financially return to work.

There’s also those mums amongst us, who may never have had a job or career before and now feel ready to take on a new challenge, and that can be a scary prospect initially.

It’s also a very exciting time!

Nerves and excitement are much they same, those fluttering butterflies you feel in your stomach when you fall in love, feel the same as those you feel when going for a job interview.  So, let’s not confuse our excitement for the journey ahead, as all bad.

IT’S AN INSIDE JOB!

Still feeling like a bag of nerves contemplating job interviews?

Well time to turn your anxiety and fear into courageous confidence instead!

Read on to discover how, when it comes to job interviews, getting hired is an ‘inside job’ that can work for you.

YOU’RE WORTH MORE

When looking for employment people tend to stay within financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth.

When clients who are looking to find a new vocation come to me for coaching, they nearly all have one thing in common; they never set their sights high enough.

When looking for employment people tend to stay within, financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth, overlooking those positions offering higher salaries. Don’t just limit your search to a job that is in your current earning bracket, when you realise how precious your time and skills are to others, your earning potential increases.

WANT IT!

Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

However, you must want the career not just the money it brings, if your motivation is job satisfaction then you’re more likely to get the job you want, and to do it well. Know what you want from an occupation and what you have to offer. Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

Interviewers can smell the difference between candidates desperately needing a job, and enthusiastic people who passionately want the job. So, take a deep breath and relax!

BE SELF- AWARE

That is why being self- aware of your own motives can help in getting hired or not, it can also help in coming across as confident.

Interviewers want to see how quick you can think on your feet and how self- aware you are. It’s not what you say that counts, but how you respond to a question, so be conscious of your strong and weak points in advance, because they will ask you about them. Ideally think of a weakness beforehand that you can turn into a positive, for e.g. you could say:

‘In the past I always had to work late, but now I’ve learnt how to prioritise my time more effectively.’

This will say a lot more about your strengths than your weaknesses, and will help you to stay present in the moment at all times. If you’ve planned well, then there will be no need for you to think of an answer, while the question is still being asked.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin:

‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’

BE PREPARED

So be prepared and research the company and role, the more information you have the better. Also look at what similar posts and other companies have to offer, this is useful to know, especially if you get offered the position.

Beforehand visualize the interview in every detail as you would like it to be, and focus only on what you want to achieve. Arm yourself with an abundance of your strengths, so you will be ready whenever an opportunity arises to tailor your skills to the job role.

Buying a new suit or getting your hair cut will also prepare you and boost your confidence, and will be one less thing to worry about. Moreover, when you are looking good, your confidence will shine through, and building rapport will be easier.

BUILD RAPPORT

Remember you are both there for the same reason- to fill the vacancy, so relax and show the real you. If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths, and say to yourself ten times ‘I am the right person for this job’

If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths.

Subtly match the interviewer’s body posture, tone and speed of speech, this way you will build rapport a lot quicker. And once that connection has been made, you will feel more comfortable and able to concentrate on the conversation.

A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the job though, it’s not always the best candidate that gets the position; it’s who the interviewer feels are the best interviewee on the day.

Afterwards ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time. Remember to keep things in perspective, it’s not a life or death situation, no matter how important it may feel to you at the time. View it as practice and experience, leading up to the real thing- your dream job.

Good Luck!

If you still need help with job interview nerves and confidence then get in touch, maybe Mumatherapy https://happychild.care/mumatherapy%e2%84%a0/ can help you get hired?

Routine

Help it’s the School Easter Holidays!

Children all over the country are jumping for joy. Schools out for Easter, YIPEE!!!!

Or maybe ‘No way!!!?’ If you’re a parent crying into your coffee?

Its not that we don’t want to spend time with our delightful cherubs, eating chocolate eggs and playing the days away. It’s just we know how difficult its going to get after day three, when the sun stops shining and we’ve run out of art and crafts/ films/ books and things in general to entertain them.

And if you’re fortunate enough to have more than one little cherub to love and entertain, then you know that sibling rivalry and warfare will ensue. In this blog this week, we’ll cover entertainment, next week we’ll tackle sibling rivalry and staying sane.

Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. So, with their normal routine disrupted, if we just try to leave them to get on with it, they’ll probably misbehave in order to grab our attention. Partly because they just won’t know what to do, other than get hypnotized by a screen or digital device. Believe it or not children actually like being told what to do? It’s usually they way we go about telling them that’s the issue, not the instructions themselves.

School and childcare are great for our children because it gives them a structure to their day, which is broken up into various activities. They are also in the company of others their own age and they know what is expected of them, when and where and more importantly why?

At home through the holidays, this all goes out the window. They wake up too early or too late. They eat treats and snacks at various times of the day. If they have siblings they bicker, if they don’t have other siblings, they are alone or in adult company, which soon gets boring. Often, they lack the physical and mental exercise, as they’re not running around the playground or walking on the school runs, or stretching their brains. Meaning that at bedtime they are not tired and end up going to bed later, as there’s no school the next day. After a few days they don’t enjoy spending time with us as much, because the novelty has worn off, and our nagging is irritating us as much as them.

But stress not, there are ways to ease all this.

Following (and also in next week’s blog post) you’ll find a few pointers to restore some balance, keep them happily busy, keep you sane and help you regain your composure these hols.

Keep to Routine

Our childrens Routines are simply their everyday activities such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time.


Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour.

Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic and confusing world. Lack of routine causes confusion and that results in misbehaviour. If our children don’t know what is expected of them, when or why? They get confused, angry and upset.

It scares them not knowing when or what to do, or not to do as the case maybe? It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to. Giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow, until eventually they become an automatic habit is best.

Once they are in the habit of say, having their tea at 4.30pm and going to bed at 7.30pm, let’s not break those healthy habits because it’s the school holidays.

If we do break them then, re-establishing that routine again when they return to school won’t be easy!

US Time

It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.

Although, generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.

That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US- Time’ for each individual child, by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time. One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, they’ll be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’. Maybe the child who doesn’t enjoy football  can stay at a friends for a few hours, while you take the other child who enjoys football to the match?

But also try to find some common ground, family Us Time together is still important and finding things we all like to do, is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and can see where everyone’s preferences lie. So get all those individual lists together, including your own, and plan to do those things you all enjoy together, alongside individual Us Time.

But Us Time is not all about doing a certain activity or going anywhere in particular, it’s about being together. What’s most important is that you enjoy each others company and look forward to spending it together.

However, there are times when we all need some alone time too.

All children with time can grow to enjoy their own company, as long as they are given the opportunity to do so and receive adequate US Time, with us.

We’ll soon discover that after adequate Us Time that, our children soon bore of us and demand our attention less, naturally stepping back a bit, and giving us the space we need for U Time.

U Time

U time is exactly that, time just for YOU.

The truth is, even if we could give our children  a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s 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. We need to clearly communicate the importance of time just for ourselves to them, in a way that stops them from feeling rejected.

We can do this by explaining that, we won’t be able to devote time just for them later to do whatever activity they want to do with us, if we don’t finish what we need to do first.

We have to let them know in no uncertain terms, that we expect them to leave us alone to get on with it. Our children need more than a playmate from us, they rely on us for everything, including their clean clothes. So finding time to do chores, as well as time to pursue our personal goals is vital.

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 towards our children, for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children. 

Sometimes we can fall into the parenting trap, of being so focused on our children that, we lose the desire to pursue our own dreams and ambitions.

If this sounds like you, then now would be a good time to list as many things as you can in ten minutes that you would like to do, if only you had more time. This is where writing your own list, when getting your children to write their lists for Us Time, is also handy for some U Time ideas and inspiration.

This will give you the clarity you need to discover what it is that you really want to do?

This list is not to include things such as spring cleaning your children’s bedrooms; this is the time to list those things that will make you happy when doing them, for no other reason than pure pleasure or relaxation.

Things like investing in a spa day, taking up windsurfing or whatever else happens to be your cup of tea. Try to be as adventurous as you can, but it’s not necessary. Even reading a book or going for a walk are great ways to spend time on you. All that matters is that it’s something for ‘You’ that ‘You’ really want to do.

MY U TIME LIST

  1.  
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  8.  
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Having things to do that you look forward to will keep you balanced and refreshed, so don’t neglect U Time.

This will help provide some free alone time for our children to ponder and daydream, but it’s also a good idea to plan some activities to occupy them too, until they learn the skill of occupying themselves.

Free Play

Over the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.

Now, experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.

This is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and joy.

When we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative or positive attention seeking behaviours. 

Give them the props, materials and resources, and leave them to it. A bowl of water in the garden and some plastic cups, never ceases to entertain little ones. Or some junk household recycling, can be used to build and create any number of things from their imagination.

Its not about technology or toys or going to expensive softplay areas or days out, an afternoon in the garden or trip to the local park is just as good. School holidays needn’t be expensive, the best things in life really are free.

However, If you have children of varying ages, or you want to keep them happily entertained for longer, a little intervention or guidance and some structure can be good.

Finding ways to stretch an activity, as well as their imagination and concentration is useful. Like suggesting they paint a treasure map and write a short story to go with it, while writing some clues to find hidden treasure for us to find, that they can make from junk materials such as bottles and boxes or play dough. This can extend an activity and prolong their interest and creativity.

Sometimes we can give our children too much choice and this can overwhelm them. We may think that by giving them lots of toys or laying out different types of creativities to do that we are keeping them occupied, but this can have the opposite effect.

If we follow their every desire and whim, then no sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?’


No sooner than getting the paint brushes out, they will be onto the play-dough shouting ‘Finished what’s next?

Leaving us exhausted and frazzled by the end of the day, as they un-contentedly and continuously flit from one activity to another.

Adding interest to an activity as in the above treasure map suggestion helps, but sometimes, we have to let them just get on with their own business of playing.

Until next week, enjoy the hols, stay sane, Stay Present,

Em x