realistic New Year’s resolutions for mums

Ok, so the countdown has come and gone, you went to bed embarrassingly early and the highlight of your day, possibly year, was the semblance of a tidy kitchen table. Relax, you’re in good company. Many new mums shudder to even think about goals, let alone New Year’s Resolutions. But what if there were some realistic, simple changes you could make now that may be helpful, invigorating even? Something to give you the momentum to face another year as a mum, something to help you say to your future self ‘you’re welcome!’ Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Enjoy the moment.  It is so easy to be distracted in a world of touch screens and smart phones. Life goes by so fast that we can miss the precious little moments if we’re not careful. Sit for a few minutes every day just looking into your baby’s eyes. Sing to them, dance with them in your arms. You helped to create this new, tiny being. They came to you for a reason, you get to marvel at the magic of it and enjoy every moment!!

Expect the unexpected. Life with a baby will throw you some curve balls. The ability to go with the flow and bounce back is always a better way to handle stressful situations. Find the positive in every moment and remind yourself of that. You are resilient, find that strong self and stick to it, no matter what.

Laugh. A lot. Laughing can literally improve your health! It boosts your immune system, lifts the mood, diminishes pain, and shields you from the damaging effects of stress. Things won’t always go the way you wished. Be flexible and learn to laugh at everything, you’ll feel so much better.

Take a shower every day. There is almost miraculous power in a hot shower – that feeling of being clean and refreshed is pretty darn amazing!! If need be, make baby a part of the fun: bring in their bouncer or lay out a mat with toys and serenade them with your best karaoke go-to song.

Plan something to look forward to. You know that feeling when something you planned months ago…some get away, girl’s night out or special date night concert is getting closer and closer? Crazy as it sounds, but that excitement helps you enjoy your day to day even more, knowing you are special too and worthy of R&R.

Stop comparing yourself. We live in a photo-shopped, social media world. Not many people Instagram the moment when the poop hit the fan, it’s the huggies-ad-worthy shots that we see and compare ourselves to. You are your own unique and beautiful self. Worry less about what people think and more about what you think about yourself, this will impact you and your family so much more.

Work on positive self-talk. Studies show that daily negative self-talk forces the body to live in fight-or-flight mode, which hampers nearly every natural function. It is important to become aware of what you’re saying to yourself. Work on implementing positive and empowering thoughts. If you find yourself heading into negative thinking, say 5 things out loud that you’re grateful for in that moment.

Find a doable, fun form of exercise. The key word here is fun! Make it enjoyable and ensure it fits into your routine. A rigid weekly gym schedule may not suit your life right now. Make this realistic. You want it to become a habit, not something you dread doing. Going for long, quiet walks in the morning can be such a great way to start the day. Or perhaps a relaxing 30-minute yoga class at home while the baby sleeps, or a kickboxing class once a week with friends?

Investigate a creative pastime. What’s something you’ve been meaning to find time for? Is there something new and outside of the box that could stretch your brain or provide a creative outlet? Maybe it’s journaling, playing an instrument, learning to crochet or painting. Find a manageable project that invigorates or delights you.

Dream again. What has been a secret passion of yours? Something you’ve always wanted to do, but never told anyone. Perhaps it’s a small as learning how to cook a certain dish, or something as lofty as living by the sea. Write down your dreams: the big, the small, the crazy. Even better, start a dream board. Ask yourself, what’s one small thing I could do today to start working towards achieving this?

Raising babies isn’t for the faint-hearted, but you are a fierce mumma, there’s nothing you can’t do!

May 2018 be the best year of motherhood yet!

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Tantrums – hold on for the ride!

Ok, tantrums. Let’s talk about THAT one. I’ve included here some things to remember and simple strategies to use when your child (who is most likely 3 -5 years old) decides to have a tantrum.

Our Top 10 Tantrum Tips:

1. He is a child. Remember how it was when you were a child? When something “bad” happened it usually had to do with waiting your turn behind two other people to use the swing or missing out on something like a lollipop because your mum had no cash on her. They were big things then. They’re not now. Hindsight is a very useful thing… and so is maturity. So use them, and don’t make a big deal of your child’s big deal because he can’t change the fact that it’s a big deal to him until he gets closer to where you are.

2. No matter what your child’s behavior, the situation will ALWAYS go better if your primary tools are UNCONDITIONAL LOVE (please, don’t make him feel that you love him less because of something he does or does not do), EMPATHY (try to put yourself in his shoes, like really put yourself in his shoes) and SAFETY (if he is raging and he is going to hurt himself, then protect him and others around him; never use him hurting himself as a punishment for his choice of behavior).

3. Some children will listen even when they are tantruming, others will not. If you know he’s likely taking in what you are saying then offer him unconditional love: “I’m disappointed you’re choosing this behavior but I will never stop loving you. I love you very much”, empathy: “sometimes Mummy/Daddy feels out of control and I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like what it makes me do but I want you to know only you have a choice to stop your tantrum; no one can make you stop” and safety: “I won’t let you hurt your sister because you feel angry; that choice will never be ok. I also want to keep you safe.” Use an even voice. Shouting will only exacerbate his feelings. If you can’t give these reminders during the tantrum, talk to him once he is calm.

4. Give him strategies. Talk to him about what helps you when you feel angry. You can teach him that when he is feeling like he is going to get out of control, he can go out and jump on the trampoline or count backwards from 20 slowly. Explain that this will take time and practice, and it may not go so well the first few times but if he keeps trying it will get easier.

5. Don’t shun him for negative behaviors. Don’t stop being with him (even if all you want to do is be far, far away!). If he has a tantrum in the morning, deal with it and move on; don’t treat him for the rest of the day like he is in “the bad books”. He needs to feel accepted; feeling like a failure gives little drive to improve.

6. Be a good role model. If you are having Mummy/Daddy tantrums left, right and centre, then wake up and smell the coffee! Your child is learning from a never-ending source how to react when something doesn’t go his way. Remember that role models can also come from other places; daycare, preschool and other family members or friends.

7. If he is not getting the behavior from you, consider why he may be tantruming (if he is doing it a lot). I recommend you take an “overall view” of your parenting and think about the way he feels in relation to this. A child who is told “no” all the time or who is controlled instead of given choices and responsibilities of his own is likely to be living in a place of frustration. A child whose sibling is constantly being favored over him will be looking for attention, and a tantrum is a sure good way to get it. You can see where I’m going here.

8. Have an open communication line with him. Be interested in him and the things he has to say; don’t “fob him off”. Give him as much information as you can about what to expect and when; a “5 minutes to go” warning at the park is a great example.

9. Don’t expect too much of him. Little people under pressure crack so easily. If you’re going to be a soccer mum, then great. Just don’t expect him to bend it like Beckham when he’s barely out of nappies.

10. Tantrums are normal kiddy behavior. Do yourself a favor and remember this. Don’t beat yourself up because your child has tantrums, and don’t belittle him because he has them. You are both human. If you deal with them in a level-headed way, he will likely grow out of them by school age.

Of course, there are always other considerations when it comes to your child’s behavior. Consider sleep, nutrition and your child’s emotional well-being when thinking about what may be causing regular outbursts.

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Toddlers – parenting and sleep manners!

I often talk about parenting during the day vs parenting during the night. Particularly in relation to the toddler or younger child, and particularly with night-time battles (staying in bed, going off to sleep).

Think about whether you are using the same expectations at night as you are during the day; if a child is not sure of the expectation, or if the parenting is “mis-matched” this can be part of having issues at night with sleep.

So, think about it:

– are you expecting independence during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?
– are you giving in to demands for constant attention during the day but not at night, or vice a versa?

Your child sends out signals to you and waits for the return signal as to what the expectation is. I like to ask myself, “What is my child learning (or not learning) during this particular interaction with me?”

There is no one right way to parent, but being both empathetic and definite in your expectation, during daytime and at night is a positive way to raise children.

Here is an example for you:

“I hear that you do not want to go to sleep right now. That’s fine — I can’t make your body go to sleep. But it is bedtime, so you’ll need to use your bedtime manners:

1. stay in your bed
2. be calm and quiet

I love you and I’m looking forward to seeing you again when bedtime is over.”

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Parenting – How do you do it well?

Today I thought I’d discuss how important it is to explore your parenting style when it comes to parenting and how this relates to your child’s sleep.

The four main parenting styles are:
– dismissive
– disapproving
– laissez faire
– emotion coaching

A dismissive parent tends to “sweep things under the rug”. He/she is more inclined to ignore a child’s emotional response, usually because he/she is unsure how to react. The child then learns that negative emotions are not ok, and that it is acceptable only to feel happy all the time. As he gets older, the child learns in order to gain a response to his emotional outburst that it must be BIG, and so he is often branded as “high needs” or “naughty”. He usually struggles to learn how to manage his emotions, and will most likely be unable to “self soothe” at any age or stage.

A disapproving parent tends to “devalue” emotions. He/she sends a clear message that “bad” emotions should be “shut off”. The child is, in effect, disciplined when she displays emotions such as sadness, anger or fear. The child learns that it is only ok to feel these emotions long enough to realize they are occurring, before turning them off like a switch. The child struggles to regulate her emotions, and as a result often hide how she really feels. She becomes worried about being herself, often has trust issues and may feel “unattached” from those she should feel closest to.

A laissez faire parent tends to recognize emotions but at the same time “fear limits”. He/she responds to the child but send a mess that “anything goes at anytime”. Children need respectful, loving boundaries; when his world lack these, he struggles to learn how to manage his emotions, act appropriately and create and maintain healthy relationships. He has learnt it is ok to treat people however he wishes, without considering others’ feelings. He grows up feeling a strong sense of entitlement, without considering the entitlement of others.

An emotional coach parent tends to recognize and value emotions, but gently teach their child that there is a way to be appropriate within emotional responses and to value others’ emotions just as much as their own. The primary tool of this type of parent is empathy; this is how a strong, healthy and attached relationship is formed and this is how the child learns how to create healthy relationships with others.

The child learns that all emotions are ok and that she can trust close ones to “talk through” these feelings, but that treating others in a negative way because of the way she feels is not ok. The child learns healthy boundaries, trust, respect and unconditional love.

In reality, we all use different parenting styles all rolled into one. At more stressful times, we may notice the more negative and restrictive parenting styles float to the surface. Indeed, being an emotional coach parent takes practice! However, if you lay down a strong foundation of healthy boundaries, trust, respect and unconditional love, you will be on the right track to parenting your child in a healthy way. And this is the perfect platform on which to create healthy sleeping habits!

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