the power of reflection

I often get told that I am a very calm person. So often of late, that I thought, perhaps I should write about it. Firstly though I just want one thing clear, I am not always calm. I have totally lost my cool with the boys, I have bad days, I have bad nights and I feel permanently sleep deprived and often wonder if I will ever be able to “sleep-in” without interruption ever again.

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You know those people who you see… they might be friends, acquaintances or strangers, and they look physically impressive? And we take one look at them and think wow I wish I looked like that and we go for a jog once for 2 kilometers and are then perplexed that we haven’t achieved a result? Well that’s because those people ACTUALLY WORK REALLY HARD. I am NOT one of these people but I do think that overtime I have become brain-fit for lack of a better term, and there is always room for improvement.

I don’t believe I learnt the profession of being a Psychologist just from four years of study at University. I have learnt it from studying people, every single day. I am fascinated by human interaction. I am very interested in how people behave, speak and use body language to convey messages. I am also incredibly interested by what people don’t do. I listen and observe. I take all of this information and I reflect. I reflect on my own behaviour, my beliefs, my actions and I adjust, acknowledge, maintain or improve.  Which leads me to my main point. The power of reflection. I use positive affirmations a lot in my practice because I believe that if you don’t have positive beliefs that outweigh the negatives then you need a reminder and a tool. But it’s not just about reading them and hoping “yay I feel great”. It’s deeper than that. It’s about reflecting on their meaning, pausing and applying it to a past belief, current belief or how you want your future to unfold. That’s a bit philosophical and you are probably wondering how that all makes me calm. Well it doesn’t. It’s not just one thing. I suppose I am trying to say that it takes practice, just like it does for people who have achieved physical well-being. And, it’s a way of being that I have come to establish over time. Also, I will never claim to know everything and regularly seek advice from people wiser and more knowledgeable than myself. I am always, always open-minded to new and different ways of doing things even if there is not a lot of evidence to support it. It means that I am not closed. I see possibilities, I give things and people chances and above all I keep learning because it’s learning and reflecting on experiences, that helps us grow. I do all of this to improve my mental well-being and so I suppose, it is how I remain generally, calm.

 

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Finding quiet time when you feel like a walking jungle

OK, firstly the title explained. I often feel like I have to carry so many things when I leave the house, food, water bottles, wipes, nappy, hats, sunscreen, wallet, phone, keys, a plethora of toys, softies, shoes (as some little people don’t like to leave the house with them on). In fact, slight tangent here. Pre-mum, I judged. Yes, believe it. I would look at mums and think, put some shoes on that child the floor must be filthy. I am now that mum, with shoeless children, because as we know sometimes it truly isn’t worth creating a tornado when instead you can have a shoeless, calm blue ocean. Anyway so back to carrying Noah’s Ark plus Kitchen sink on exit of the house with either one or two children being held, hence the reference to feeling like a jungle with monkeys (I mean children), swinging off you. No wonder I have a permanently sore neck and left hip, just saying.

HappinessSo, in case you are like me and have zero opportunity to take 6 months off life and sit on the side of a mountain, to contemplate, meditate and take in the goodness and greatness of the world – because you have 4 people (sorry 5, forgot my actual self) to look after on a 24/7 basis, of course for me that is two boys, husband and dog….then, this is the book for you!

Last year my focus, when I remembered to practice it, was on feeling grateful. I have shared this with a few close friends and I do believe it is possibly one of the most important skills to attempt to acquire in life, well so I have read 🙂

This year, I am also taking this through with me but am also attempting to take those mindful moments and am using it in my psychological practice as well as day-to-day, for myself and my children. Basically because since becoming a mother I have seen the really not cool side of myself, and I really, really don’t like it. I realised recently that in the past year my stress had built up because I either felt I had no time, or simply I was unable to make time, to take 10 minutes often and quiet the mind. Its hard dammit! when you have little people hanging off you like you are a walking jungle and they are the monkeys, chores, and food prep, nap times (or lack of naps, enter sleep deprivation), school, work, blah blah..the list goes on. Life isn’t getting slower. It feels as though time is going faster and the things we do makes us busy, busy, busy. And in our heavily technological lives it is so important, more than ever, to take a breather and literally stop, and smell the roses.

So here it is. I haven’t finished it but if you are looking for something to help with finding your “inner-zen”, it’s definitely worth a read and for a mere $10 (the cost of two take away coffees).

Go out and get yourself a copy.

Go the F to sleep

Ever used these tried and trusted beauties?

  • Taking your shoes off before you put your child to bed, so the shoes don’t make a noise when you leave the room at record snail pace
  • Ensuring you have gone to the toilet before you start the “book, rock, pat” routine so as you don’t have to “go” part way through and then have to “start all over” (usually another half hour at least on top of what you have already done) to put them back to bed. Cursing throughout the process.
  • Singing the same song, over….. and over…… again. And when you tire of hearing the song, you hum it.
  • Avoiding certain floor boards so they don’t CREAK!
  • After you have been leaning over the cot (for ages) just to be sure they are asleep, you literally peel yourself away one body part at a time, so slowly and awkwardly that you could now qualify as a Mime.
  • Turn the door handle and then hold the handle on the other side of the door so you don’t have to turn it again. This is especially useful if you have creaky door handles.
  • You are almost out of the room, so of course the most logical thing to do now is hold your breath so that NOTHING, not even the smallest particle of air could wake your child.
  • PRAY THEY STAY ASLEEP
  • Drink wine

DIY – Kids Terrarium

photo 4 (1)

I love being in the garden. Wherever I can I try to involve the boys and today whilst I was making some cuttings from a succulent plant in the garden I thought Yes! Lets make a Terrarium. This was SO easy and didn’t cost anything to make. What you need:

1 x plastic container “(any shape or size. I used an empty flour container)

Stickers

Soil from the garden

Plant cuttings (from succulent plants preferably as they propagate easily)

Water

Place stickers on the inside, the themes are endless but we made a space garden! You could make a dinosaur or fairy theme. Place dirt/soil up to the line of the picture, as you want to be able to see the background. Push cuttings into the soil. Water lightly (you don’t want to water too much. You could use a spray bottle).

We put the Terrarium in the boys bathroom. The plants will like it in there as it will get humid when you run the shower or bath.

🙂

 

 

the Colour blue – overcoming water anxiety for little people

blue water

When I was little, I hated swimming. To the point that I would sit on the step and scream. Mum gave the reigns over to dad and we would take private lessons. I remember clinging for dear life to the edge of the pool, the whites of my knuckles showing. I remember the screaming. It must have been horrible for my parents. I don’t need to be reminded of just how dreadful it was. Apparently, my husband was the same. Thankfully, as with most things, I grew out of this and grew a love for the ocean when we moved to Western Australia, when I was 8. When my first son was 18 months (he is now 4, next week), we stopped swimming lessons. It was winter, we were renovating our house and we had moved out. I can’t even remember the next ‘water encounter’ but it must have been that following summer. Poor thing. He didn’t want a bar of it. He had lost all of his confidence. I felt awful. We had totally dropped the ball on something so important, BUT I was determined that history wouldn’t repeat itself. The thought of my already sensitive little poppet not liking the water made me sad and in some ways that I had failed him. So, we have embarked on my own version of water exposure, initially led by Master one with some guidance from me as he gained confidence. I have observed other little sensitive beings who are resistant to the water (for whatever reason) so hopefully this may help you, if you need it!

Firstly, I have to say having a pool in our new home has helped immensely as we had access every day. But, if you don’t have one I would highly recommend private lessons (perhaps in a friends pool). Sometimes the influence of peers helps (when kids see other kids having fun, they copy) but I personally have found privately gaining confidence has meant a more positive experience in public (for you and your child!).  If you can’t get your child near the pool, try going to the beach/river which is what I did. There were more enjoyable elements (like playing in the sand, and you only have to get your toes wet).

  • Go as OFTEN as you can
  • ACCEPT that they won’t go from hating the water to liking it straight away, it will be gradual and you might have days where you feel like things have gone backwards. Rest assured they haven’t, they probably just didn’t feel like it today.
  • PRAISE for small achievements (verbal or physical rewards)
  • Be POSITIVE (this is how you speak to them)
  • Recognise your own AGENDA. It’s not all about your little person. If you are worried for them, annoyed – they will be aware of the negative feelings. Try to be conscious of this.
  • EXTEND their skill. If they have achieved something (going to the next step in the pool), praise and ask them to try the next step. TRY once and then stop. You will know your child’s limitations.
  • Every exposure is to try and gain small amounts of confidence.
  • Have a GOAL. Our goal was only for Master one to be happy and confident in the water. Enough to get to swimming lessons without public meltdowns.

Not only is Master one back at swimming lessons. He loves it.

We did it! HOORAY! We stopped history repeating itself.

Stay tuned! this is Part One of the different COLOURS of motherhood and all the wonderful shades in between.

Dear Mums, you are doing a great job

To the just newborn mums. You are amazing. You just delivered the most precious gift on earth. You don’t have a magical book to tell you what to do, you just do it. You fumble with almost everything, you navigate through the first days of feeding, you feel like you have no idea what you are doing but you do it. You cry, you laugh and you pray you will get through it. And you do. You are doing a great job. To the first time mum. You are amazing. You are doing everything for the first time. You try things and you get it right. You try things and they don’t work. But, it’s OK. You sing nursery rhymes that are drawn on from the deep recesses of your brain, that you forgot were there but somehow appear when you need them the most. You make up your own songs when you are desperate. You rock, you sway. You suddenly take the long way home, because your babe is sleeping. You don’t sleep. But, you keep on going. You take an hour to leave the house and you carry more than one bag. You forget. You have baby spew on your top but you don’t know that until you are already at the shops. Your washing has doubled, you haven’t vacuumed and you have forgotten the iron exists. But it’s OK. You are doing great job. To the second time mums. You are amazing. You have just delivered another precious gift to the planet, and, to your family. You enjoy moments that you missed the first time in your sleep deprived haze. But, you are busy. You are incredibly busy, raising your little family. And, just because you have done it before, doesn’t mean you know everything. You fumble, you sing nursery rhymes, you sway, you rock. You run to toilets, one child hanging off each arm. You have food on your clothes. Your washing is endless. You haven’t mopped. It’s toast for dinner. But, it’s OK. It’s really OK and you are doing a great job.

Dear Mums, you are all doing a great job.