I was looking at old home videos today, and I noticed I really miss those days when my children were little and just wanted to be with me.
And, I also remember how isolating many of those days were. How hard it can be responding to unrelenting love and need for attention.
I'm not going to tell you that one day you'll look on those demanding days and miss them, because it doesn't help. Your smart, you know this, but right now in this moment, when you just ache for some time for yourself without the guilt you feel as your youngest child runs down the driveway telling you to come back because they miss you... now is not the time to tell you you'll miss it.
What I can do is help you not carry that guilt that is trying to follow you down the driveway...
Having a child cry that they want you to come back, does not make you a bad mother. Having a child scream that they hate you, does not make you a bad mother. Having a child kick out at you because they don't want to be in their car seat, does not make you a bad mother. Having a child refuse to go to school, does not make you a bad mother. It sure has heck feels like it sometimes though....
I'll let you in on a secret, well it's not really a secret, but it does seem to be something that people don't talk about much.
Some children are more difficult to look after than others.
They're the ones who don't want to go to sleep, who don't want to eat the food you make, who are quick to anger or cry. It doesn't make you love them any less, but they are harder work.
And it's OK to accept this fact.
You may even find that letting go of the idea that it is your fault your children are difficult and accepting what is, helps lessen the feeling of guilt that is following you around..
If this is something you struggle with, we are here to help. Simply call us on 0408533515 or email email@example.com to book a parenting consultation and let us help you move from overwhelm to calm.
ps if you don't have it yet, click here to access your free resource to take the first step to move from Overwhelm to Calm.
I chatted with Nonie Carr, psychologist yesterday about how to manage the stress and anxiety that can accompany doing a VCE performing arts subject.
Being a parent is tough. If you want help in moving from overwhelm to calm, click the below button
Schools are bureaucracies, and like most bureaucracies they run better without consumers.
Bureaucracies aren't designed to create warm, fuzzy feelings or to create heart felt connections. So there is an ongoing challenge there between engagement, interaction, and connection. We know students learn better when they feel welcomed and part of a school community. As do parents. We want to trust our schools, and the teachers who take care of our children. But there is a problem here...
Schools are bureaucracies. They are complex forms of organisations, they have policies and procedures, legal responsibilities, specialised functions, a system of control and a strict chain of command.
Doesn't scream connection does it...
I say this with a clear sense that teachers generally care for their students and want to help them achieve their best. But notwithstanding this.....
I've heard the saying in quite a few of the organisations (not just schools) I have worked for over the years that everything would run so much better if there were not customers / clients / consumers / students.
As a parent navigating the system I know I've found it difficult over the years to understand the 'chain of command', who to speak to about what, who has the responsibility for what? There are sub schools, home group, care group, well being coordinators, subject coordinators, subject leaders, lead teachers as well as a number of different assistant principles and classroom teachers. And your school may have different labels for teachers.
If we can work through the maze of labels and start developing a working relationship we can develop a trust of sorts.
However, don't lose sight of reality.
In the past I have been caught out when I realised that all the school meetings I had attending were not recorded, there were no official minutes being taken, even though notes were being typed up and verbal commitments made.
Don't make the same mistake as me
Schools are bureaucracies. And in a bureaucracy if it isn't written down, it didn't happen.
Insist on official records of meetings. Take notes when you speak with people at the school. Leave an email trail. Create accountability. Because it can be too easy for the caring to get lost and for those fragile connections to be broken.
About the Author. Kim is a private psychologist who loves working collaboratively both online and in real life with other professionals and is passionate about increasing connection in the community.
ps, As a mum there are many things in this parenting journey that can contribute to overwhelm if you are looking for a step from to help reduce the overwhelm and move towards calm here is a handout that may help . https://mailchi.mp/f009b27939b3/fromoverwhelmtocalmthefirststep
Creating connection involves stepping out of our comfort zone, making changes to how we think and what we do. But it is crucial if we are to combat this scourge of loneliness that surrounds us, that contributes to isolation, mental health difficulties and suicide.
So I'm stepping into this mission I have to help you create connections with yourself, others and the greater world. I can't sit by and just accept what is impacting on all of us.
It is through strengthening these connections that we raise the positive energy around us that we all need.
I welcome you to come along on this journey with me.
Today I'm sharing a little video that shows how we can all make a difference, straight away, today with not adding any extra time chores to our list...because we all have way too many as it is.
As a parent, supervising your children to 'get their homework done', particularly if they are a reluctant learner, can be a huge stress in the household.
Teachers set homework and the responsibility for monitoring it, and providing appropriate consequences/support if homework is neglected by the student, lies with them. Also many children, particularly in primary school are overburdened by homework. Taking all this into account my stance has been one of hands off. It is the school and teacher's problem and responsibility, not the parents.
However, experience has shown me that taking a hands off approach tends to result in little effective, response from schools and teachers; students falling behind; and the lack of creation of an appropriate work ethic. Note, that I am referring to Grades 5-6 up.
So, what to do? I always say that everything begins with acceptance...so accept that you are going to need to oversee and help coordinate homework.
Develop your own rhythm depending on your child. Some children who are competent self-starters will need minimal, if any, supervision. Other children will need a consistent routine whereby homework is done in a similar environment each night.
This can be created through making a consistent time, having environmental cues such as starting homework music, laying the table with a homework cloth, setting a timer. And through behavioural chaining - which is linking activities together in a sequence. Eg. 20 minutes outside play, snack, homework, 20 minutes on a game.
What type of homework is beneficial? Well that's a whole other article. But in young children reading - read to them and with them.
Any questions on homework? Ask below or email me. Like to book a parent consultation to talk about this in more depth simple email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 0408533515.
Together building calm, confident and connected children.
Are you looking to create a positive family meal time?
Creating a mealtime ritual is one way to help a family bond and bank some family social capital.
But like many things it sounds simple but can prove so challenging. How does your mealtime look? Depending on the ages and stages of your family I am guessing dinner may be anywhere between 5pm and 8pm (or even later) and may be done in split shifts. One of my biggest challenges is that I tend to spread everything over the dining table throughout the day…… And then it's deciding what to cook that most people will eat....
Here are 10 things that may help you create a more positive family meal time. Take what suits you and your family and leave the rest.
This is practical mindfulness. Remember, you don’t need to do it all.
Choose one and see how it goes.
For other tips and strategies on incorporating practical mindfulness, follow Positive Young Minds and Positive Psychology for Life. Want to dive deeper into practical wellbeing? Have a look at our supported online program at https://www.positiveyoungminds.com.au/getting-started-with-self-care.html.
This weeks school success tip is to do with improving communication.
Communication is one of the secrets to school success. Communicating with your child, their teachers and other school professionals is all important.
One of the tricky situations is when your child comes home and tells you about something that happened at school. Now you weren't there... and therefore you really don't know what happened. So what do you do?
Depending on the situation you may want to go full on Mumma Bear, but before you do have a look at the success tip.
Firstly, check in with yourself. If you have really strong feelings about what is being reported to you I wonder why. Maybe a similar thing happened to you at school, maybe it's happened to your child before, or maybe you are just very surprised. It's important to sit and digest those feelings before responding by sending off an angry email, gossiping about it in the car park or using your crystal ball and imagining the worst possible scenario.
Secondly, put all this in the context of how your child normally responds to situations. Do they tend to see the worst or best in a situation? Are they a sensitive child or rarely show emotion? Do they have confidence or experience anxiety? Whatever they are reporting is through the lens of their emotions and personality.
Thirdly, take some time to gather all the facts you can, or as best your child can remember.
Doing all of this is all important preparation for approaching the school and/or teacher.
ps. If being part of a group that focuses on helping children achieve school success interests you, you are welcome to join us at http://bit.ly/secretsofschoolsuccess.
Does it sometimes feel like everyone else knows the secrets of school success? Other people's children find learning to read easy. How come they get invited to parties? I think the teacher picks on my child. What am I meant to do at a parent-teacher-student conference thingy? What is a speech therapist and what does it mean if the teacher thinks my child needs one?
There are sooo many questions when your child starts school. What is important? What makes a difference to your child's school experience?
It is said that when we are older we don't remember much of what we learned at school, but we remember how we felt. We remember the feelings of humiliation of being chosen last for sport, pride at winning the timetable race, happiness at a party invitation, embarrassment when the teacher hit us on the hand with a ruler, anxiety about exams..
We remember the feelings of humiliation of being chosen last for sport, pride at winning the timetable race, happiness at a party invitation, embarrassment when the teacher hit us on the hand with a ruler, anxiety about exams.
Do you like school holidays? Can you take the time to reconnect these holidays?
Depending on your family they can be a blessing or a curse. A chance to slow down the weekly grind or routine, or a be source of stress as children out of their routine don't know what do with their unstructured time.
Whilst we work on creating a school success schedule, how much work do we put into making school holidays a success?
It is also common for issues such as too much screen time to arise; as well as pressures to organise and clean the house and catch up on everything you didn't get to during the term (I hope that's not just me!),
Just a quick hint - try for some out of the house time each day. Have a look at what your local council, youth group, State parks and libraries have on. You may be surprised at their breadth of activities - particularly for primary school aged children.
A quick walk in your nearest park, a trip on a bus or train somewhere, visiting friends or a picnic in the backyard.
Try and make the time to plant your feet on sand, grass or soil. Try and make time to reconnect with your children and your world.
Do you have time for self-care? This is something parents and other busy people can struggle with - for an example of one of my typical days see The reality of self-care and parenting.
STEP 1. Make a list of all the things you WANT to do for yourself. These are your desires for self-care. See if you have something from each of the below categories.
❤️PHYSICAL SELF CARE: Exercise/movement, Nutrition/diet, Sleep, regular medical check ups.
❤️PSYCHOLOGICAL SELF CARE: boundaries, healthy thinking, managing stress, challenging yourself, learning new things.
❤️EMOTIONAL SELF CARE: awareness and acceptance of emotions, resilience, finding joy, respecting and accepting self.
❤️CONNECTIONS: developing relationships with family, friends, others and community that minimise loneliness. Connecting with nature.
❤️MEANING: finding the meaning in your life.
STEP 2. Look at the list. If you did these things would it help you be more rested, calmer, fit, happier? If not, what else is needed. Add that to your list.
STEP 3. Sort the items in order of importance
Now it’s time for a reality check.
STEP 4. Have a look at your schedule. What have you allocated time for at the moment? Are any of these things on your list? For most people the answer is – not many.
Pedram Shojai OMD, echoes most of our knowledge around time management – if you don’t schedule it, it doesn’t happen. If it is important, block it out on your calendar/diary.
STEP 5. Reshuffle your schedule for tomorrow so that you can fit at least one of your most important self-care things in. Then do this with every other day for the next week. (I wonder what you have dropped and what you have added in).
STEP 6. How can you honour these new commitments? Is the activity you want to schedule something you can do with a friend? Is it something you need to book? Pay for? When is the best time of the day for it? Think of what you can pair it with to help you remember to do it. Remind yourself of why this is important http://bit.ly/prioritisingselfcare.
STEP 7. Practice saying ‘No’ to things and other people’s requests that will mean you sacrifice your self-care.
This article is part of our 90 day challenge, which follows the ideas in The Art of Stopping Time. Depending on the day, these ideas will be portrayed quite closely, or very loosely. To follow this more closely join us at Positive Psychology for Life.
ps. One of the things self-help books are good at is giving you lots of information, a lot of general information that may or may not be right for you. That’s why we offer a couple of online course options which dive down deeper into helping you create a schedule that works for you, whilst giving you support about how to actually make these changes. See https://www.positiveyoungminds.com.au/groups-and-courses.html. Or you are welcome to make an appointment for one on one coaching.
In the Art of Stopping Time, Pedram Shojai OMD outlines 100 different practical mindlfulness activities; one for each of 100 days. I have chosen this book as a focus for the next few months and am diving in and vlogging on many of the various activities proposed.
* My aim is for these posts is meant to useful, interesting and/or inspiring. They are not designed to be used for therapy..
Kim Dunn is a Child Psychologist and Founder of Positive Young Minds.