11 surefire ways to show your children that you care…

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So I recently read a Psychology Today article claiming to tell me the 11 ways that my man should show me that he loves me. And it told me that I’m very lucky to have the Stinker as he does all of the things (and more, like bringing me wine and chocolate on a Wednesday evening when I’m feeling tired and rubbish!)

But it got me to thinking about how we can show our children how much we love them, and care about them as individual human beings, in the same 11 ways:

1. Want to spend time with them. Ok so we all have to spend time with our children (especially when we’re home educating them!) but it’s about finding time and truly enjoying doing an activity with them. For example at our home ed group today one of the very musical mothers (who already runs band, recorders and drama!) decided to start a choir, which Poppet was keen (but nervous) to join. I was happy to go along with her and we really enjoyed singing a Let it Go/Happy mash up together 🙂 (Well I think I might have enjoyed it slightly more!)

2. Ask about the time you spend apart. Well at the moment that’s rare for us, but the big Ps do a few sport activities without us there and I always make a point of asking how it has gone. Whether or not I receive a coherent response is another matter because it seems as if nearly 8 is the new teenager! (Another blog to follow about that soon.)

3. Trust them. Obviously my children are not quite at the stage of hiding things from me yet but I guess when they reach their teens (or 8 – see above!) they might. I really hope that we are building the kind of relationship where they will trust me enough to share things with me and I’ll be able to trust that they will lead a, mostly, safe life.

4. Help when they need it. As parents this is a given really, but sometimes I think it is important to give the help without making a big deal out of it, without expecting any thanks, just because we want to. We are often caught up in ensuring our children grow up to be respectful with pleases and thank yous but sometimes a little bit of help, just because we want to, doesn’t need a big song and a dance to be made. I watched a lovely home ed dad helping Poppet learn to finger knit yesterday; when it clicked she was so focused on her knitting that I don’t think a thanks passed her lips, but the dad of her friend looked so pleased that she was obviously chuffed with herself, I think that was all the thanks he needed. If I had got involved and told her to say thank you I think the magic of the moment would have disappeared. (Another post on saying thank you, or not, to come soon.)

5. Show respect for their views. As the Ps get older they are starting to have more of an opinion about things. It can be all too easy to dismiss children’s views as immature or pointless, but we are really trying to bring our children up to know that they are valued and also have interesting points to share in a family discussion, and that even grown ups sometimes have a view that seems silly!

6. Include them in decisions. This follows on well from point 5. If we respect their views then we care about what they think of our choices. Sometimes as parents we just need to be able to say what we are doing or where we are going, but to allow our children to help make decisions we really show them that we care what they think. As home educators trying to be as child led and unschooling as possible, we often ask the Ps to help make decisions, the simple fact that they don’t attend school being the main one. But be warned, the results aren’t always what you hoped for (a rainy day in the garden making mud pies appeal to anyone?!)

7. Show affection. Loving physical contact is so important, in fact it is crucial for a child’s well being. As children get older the chances to show affection in this way diminish, but it is so important to continue to give them. Cuddles can also help with behaviour as author of the Positive Discipline series, Dr. Jane Nelsen explains, “Children do better when they feel better.” The Ps all love a cuddle, to the point where I often wish I had more arms, but I hope they continue to as they get older.

8. Look at them. I think all parents are guilty of not doing this one at times. We can be busy making dinner, washing up or taking time out on Facebook when a little face pops up with something really interesting (to them!) to share with us. “Oh lovely” or something similar comes out of our mouth but we don’t take the time to focus on them. I also find that if I don’t actually stop and listen properly I don’t really take in what they are saying; I’ve been known to agree to things without ever really hearing what I’ve agreed to! All jokes aside though, how does it feel when you are talking to someone who doesn’t actually engage with you? Horrible isn’t it, so if we love and respect our little people we should show them this common courtesy.

9. Talk about the past. We often share old photos and talk about what life was like when the Ps were littler. They love hearing funny stories about themselves and we enjoy sharing them. “Remember the time when…” is a common sentence starter in this house 🙂

10. Defend them. I guess this is usually a given with parenting but it’s important to let our children know that we’re in their corner. Ok we’re not always going to agree with them and the things they do but we should always have their back.

11. Make them feel good about themselves. I’d assume that by doing all of the above we will be going the right way to boosting our children’s self esteem, making them feel like worthwhile, valued human beings.

I really hope that the Ps get all of these 11 affirmations from myself and the Stinker regularly, even on a rubbish Wednesday when all I want is wine and chocolate! Thanks for loving me Stinker ❤

When ‘Me time’ results in punishment -7 tips to help prepare children when you go away.

I was lucky enough to have five days of ‘Me time’ in Malta a few weeks ago… Since returning I’ve been ill, hence the delay in writing. I’ve also been punished for going away!

I went to Malta with my sister, where we stayed with our Auntie and Uncle (who spend some of the year living over there – lucky them!) We had the most fantastic 5 days, mainly just chilling out and enjoying the sunshine, with a Music Festival and Spa Day thrown in 🙂

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Photos courtesy of my big sis – ta Krusty 🙂

Coming home was bittersweet – of course I’d missed everyone, but I could have happily stayed in the warm, slow-paced world for a bit longer. The Stinker surprised me by bringing the Ps to the airport to meet me. Seeing their little faces when I came through the Arrivals gate and I immediately burst into tears! (Cue lots of cooing from the onlookers) Hearing their voices again set me off again; Piccalilli sounded so grown up – how does that happen in such a short period of time?!

We sat and had a welcome home drink (tea of course!) before everyone needed the loo and I was back in Mummy-mode and ushering the Ps in the right direction. In her excitement (well, her usual state!) Pickle ran round the corner and cracked her head on the corner of the Coffee Shop counter (a sharp, marble corner at that). Mummy-mode went to the next level when I noticed the blood gushing out of her head. To cut a long story short, the First Aid and Health and Safety team at Bristol Airport were fantastic and we left about half an hour later thankfully without needing a hospital trip (it was just another knock to the head so it might sort Pickle out?!)

The journey home was lovely and everyone was telling me about the great things they’d been doing with Nanny and Daddy, and enjoyed listening to some of the things I’d seen and done in Malta.

Now, I’m sure most of the parents reading this will recognise this scenario…

The following day the punishment began! The Stinker was in work so we were back to a usual home ed day. Well, everytime I asked anyone to help out with anything you’d think I’d asked them to jump off the building! Everything I offered was not what they wanted. Whenever I tried to comfort them I was pushed away. I had known this could happen from previous trips away and the reading I had done, but I didn’t expect the resentment to be so bad!

When the Stinker came home from work you’d have thought he’d been the one who had been away for five days from the welcome he received! Luckily I was expecting this, but it was still a bit upsetting when Piccalilli wouldn’t let me near her 😦

I guess it took about five days (so the length of time I’d been away) for things to return to normal, but the main thing I had to do was not push them while letting them know I was there for them and not planning on going anywhere else.

I know that Piccalilli is still a little worried that I might go away again after an interesting conversation this week, when I was going to vote:

“Mummy, don’t go away”

“I’m not going anywhere”

“But you said you were going to a boat.”

Every family is different, but here are some ideas to make a trip away, without the little people, run smoothly:

  1. Prepare them for the fact that you will be away for a short time, but don’t tell them too far in advance of the trip. I told the Ps a couple of weeks before I was going, despite the fact that I’d known for months. “Warning children 3 years old and younger too far ahead of time does not help them, especially if the focus is on talking about the parent being gone and for how long,” says Julia Heberle, an associate professor of psychology at Albright College in Reading, Pa., and a developmental psychologist. “Children this age have barely mastered time vocabulary, so ‘tomorrow’ can just mean ‘not now,’ or ‘forever away.’ ”
  2. Make home sound more exciting than your trip – I made sure I talked a lot about the fact that Nanny was coming for a sleepover and all of the exciting things they would be doing with her and Daddy while I was away missing out!
  3. Follow their lead and only talk about the trip if they raise the subject. Poppet wanted to know what I’d be doing while I was there, Pickle wanted to help me to pack my case, whereas with Piccalilli it seemed the best option to not discuss it too much!
  4. Keep Goodbyes short and sweet (but always say them and reassure that you are coming home). I was lucky in that I left home at 3am so my proper goodbyes were said at bedtime (although I did sneak kisses and cuddles before I left the house!)
  5. Leave or send little love reminders. Whether you leave notes, a special toy or secret messages on the bathroom mirror or send messages and photos, make sure your children know you will be thinking of them while you are away. I knew that my phoning would have upset the Ps but I still sent photo messages so that they knew what I was getting up to (and I also received photos of them!)
  6. Keep everything as normal as possible at home. This can be hard to do, but it minimises their stress levels. Even though my mom helps out weekly with the Ps, I still left her a run down of the days. I know that Pickle struggled while I was away, but think this would have been even worse if her routine had disappeared too.
  7. Be prepared to be punished when you return! It’s natural to be angry when you love being with someone and they have left. Sometimes children don’t understand how to verbalise their anger at your having gone. If your child ignores you when you come back, you could say something like, “It’s ok to be angry with me for going away. I will always love you.” ❤

 

 

Purple storm clouds – when the anger rolls in…

I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough with Pickle this week… but who knows what will happen next week!

She struggles with a lot of her emotions and can often be an anxious, nervous child. To outsiders this is not at all obvious as she is amazing at putting on a face and is often the ‘life and soul’, the comedian, the ‘Pickle’!

But behind closed doors she sometimes finds it hard to deal with her emotions and tries to hide them away, resulting in big violent outbursts at difficult times.

After a particularly tense few days last week I decided to talk to her (not for the first time!) about how she felt when these outbursts took over her. It was interesting to listen to her describe it as a ‘dark purple storm that she couldn’t get out of’. I asked her what colour made her feel happy and she replied lilac. So we practised blowing the purple storm away and letting the lovely lilac return. She also said she wanted to be cuddled and I’ve read a lot about how hugging children can really help during any emotional times.

The next time I saw the storm trying to take over I reminded her to blow it away and let the lilac come back – she did and it worked so well!

I’ve also been reading a lot about allowing children to have ‘freedom of the mouth’ during times of rage; basically accepting angry outbursts for what they are – a release and healing process – and ensuring that children feel able to have these moments if they need them. This doesn’t mean they are allowed to simply scream and shout and be rude and unkind – these things are responded to with a simple “We don’t talk like that in our family” and an attempt at distraction. But if it is truly a cry for help in a stressful situation, then giving time to listen (and simply listen), hold and reassure is our way out of the storm.

So, this week has been a good week for us, which I will share later 🙂

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New Year, New Challenges…

I don’t often bother with resolutions as it feels like setting yourself up for a fall! I do like to set myself little challenges though so have given myself a few challenges for the next few months.

  1. Mindfulness – The lovely Stinker gave me a beautiful colouring book for Christmas. I plan on using this regularly and doing lots of colouring and relaxation with the 3Ps
  2. Meat-free – We have decided to avoid buying meat throughout January for a few reasons including the high cost of good quality meat. I’m not at all daunted by this as I’m not really bothered about meat, although I might miss bacon! I have a feeling this challenge will extend further than January…
  3. Dry January and February – I read recently that unless you’re an alcoholic it’s pointless having dry months, but I think this is a silly statement to make. We are doing it for health reasons (to lose a few excess kilograms!) and to save money.
  4. To write another blog – Don’t worry I plan on continuing to write this one on a personal level but I am thinking of writing one giving advice about different aspects of home education and healthy living… I’ll keep you posted as to how I get on!

Super plants really do help you sleep!

I’ve just got back from a rare evening out at the pub with some lovely friends who I wish I saw more often… We ended up sitting out in the garden area huddled under one of the tiny two-bar heaters, breathing in other people’s second-hand smoke (yuk!)

We are all into natural living and so had a few discussions about living chemical-free lives, something we are aiming to do as much as possible. We were talking about super plants and it made me think I should share the link for ’12 super plants to help you sleep’ that I read recently. So here it is…

Since reading this we moved our aloe plant into our bedroom and I really think it’s helping me. I also plan on going back to the 90s and getting lots of spider plants around the house! Let me know how you get on…