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.

 

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

You know you are a mother of boys when

  1. Your house has become a race track for cars or a sprint track for running. Or both.
  2. You know every superhero name AND their villains
  3. Your child’s first word was OUT as in “I want to go outside because the pure thought of being couped up inside is bringing me to tears” – Master Two at 13 Months.
  4. Even sitting requires moving
  5. Sport – really no further explanation required here
  6. Balls – as above
  7. Household items have become bats – spoons, chopsticks, spatulas, rulers etc
  8. Parks and playgrounds are your very dear friends
  9. Having a civilised meal in a restaurant is virtually impossible
  10. “Please don’t jump on……….” and “Please don’t jump off…….” are common phrases in your day
  11. You have started carrying a packet of bandaids in your bag.
  12. It is impossible to leave the house without taking food.
  13. Three words sum up their day Eat, run, sleep – Repeat.

10 ways of the sleep deprived mum…

cold coffee1. You don’t text back. I don’t know how many times I have done this. But it happens all the time. Someone texts me, I read it, I answer it in my brain, I am interrupted by a) screaming child b) hungry child c) pulling at my leg child or d) all of the above. Text is immediately forgotten. You get another text from the same friend “did u get my text?” Of course I did, didn’t you get mine? And then, you check. There is either a message half finished in draft form or there is no message. Usually, there is no message. Dammit!

2. You lose track of conversation. You are having a wonderful conversation with a friend about something great and you are interrupted by a) mum, MUM! b) a meltdown c) an event that requires immediate intervention d) all the above …and Faboooooosh! Thread of conversation obliterated. Train of thought left faster than the speed of light. Worst still you are chatting with another sleep deprived mum and when you return to the conversation you look at each other blankly – deer in headlights style. Neither of you remember what were talking about .

3. You can’t remember if you had a shower today, or yesterday. No explanation required there.

4.  A trip to Coles ON YOUR OWN is like your first car ride with your p plates. Pure joy.

5. You arrive home from an outing and realise you a) have baby spew on your clothes or much worse b) remnants of poo

6. You have about three cups of cold tea or coffee at various drop points around the house. After the second round of re-heating you finally give up.

7. Just the thought of wearing high heels almost has you keeling over in agony. And when you do decide to go there you totally regret it and keel over in agony.

8. Eyeliner is your new best friend.

9. You forget. EVERYTHING. Its a miracle that you and your children are all still alive.

10. You have become the Mother of Dragons. The less sleep, the bigger the dragon  – don’t even THINK about messing with me today. One more child meltdown, one more throw of your gourmet meal on the floor, one more “But WHYYYYY” grating on your brain and I will seriously burn the whole house down, Khaleesi style.

a trip to the craft store “mecca” – with children

beautiful fabric sourced from a stunning perth based store "Calico and Ivy". To be used for my next projects - cloth dolls and softies.

beautiful fabric sourced from a stunning Perth based store “Calico and Ivy”. To be used for my next projects – cloth dolls and softies.

So I was a little bit excited when a friend of mine asked if she could place a custom order for a doll to be made as a gift for a friend expecting a baby girl. Well, excited is putting it lightly, I was ecstatic. Up until now I have been using fabric that I have collected over the years including stunning Laura Ashley cottons, sourced vintage fabrics and those bits and bobs that have been handed down to me either by my mother or from my nanna. But, a paid project…well I couldn’t resist buying something tremendous and new from the most amazing craft store, Calico and Ivy. For crafters/knitters/sewers and the like it is literally paradise and a place of beauty. When I was there one of two staff members struck up conversation. She said that people have spent hours in their store, literally hours. I wish I had hours to swish around the store dreaming of all the things I could make, perusing the beautiful inspirational books at leisure, looking at all the trinkets, conversing with the staff about my next project. But I had minutes, because I took children. I took boys to a place of peace and tranquility and wrecked it. I just wanted my little piece of heaven.

When I parked out the front of the store, Master two was snoring peacefully in the car. Perfect. He even transferred to the pram. Hoorah! Only one child to have to worry about. Enter Master one at the top of his lungs “Mum LOOK! He’s awaaaaaake”!. I laugh now writing this. I was not laughing when it happened. We enter the store and are welcomed by the staff. Thankfully I had a goal. We conversed. “It’s Ok I have children too, I understand” said the staff member. And she did. We chatted some more but internally I was frantically trying to “take in the paradise experience” in enough time before Master two potentially screamed the place down from not getting enough sleep or master one from breaking something VERY expensive. WTF was I thinking?! I don’t think we had made the 5 min mark and I went looking for “the toy box”, praying they had one so that he could sit down and play with the toys. They did have one, but there was a ball in the box ………….and my paradise session ended. Game over. You know when they find a toy and they look at you with that “if you try to take this off me I am literally going to make a scene of epic proportions” look? The one where they have the potential to run around screaming like a crazed animal? Yup, we had THAT moment. So I allowed the ball. For those who know my son well, for a three and half year old, his ball skills are very, very good. So, every opportunity he gets, he likes to practice. Thankfully the instructions of “no kicking” and “no throwing” were adhered too. He impressed the staff with his bouncing and catching skills. How old is he? My son can’t do that and he is seven. Ok, awesome that you are bedazzled by the ball skills, but I am quietly praying I can source my fabric at a store that I get to visit once in a blue moon without actually buying the contents of the store, because we have broken everything in it. When the ball was bounced down the stairs with a “thud, thud, thud…and boing!! in an unknown direction with a “look! LOOK MUUUUUUUM! Look what I am DOOOINGGG”. I magic mother inspector gadget extender armed the ball to safety, caught one handed of course whilst holding crying baby, promptly paid for my fabric and handed the ball to the shop attendant. And she calmly said “Oh, is that our ball?”.

Congratulations, I am now 100 Years old…

Of course I don’t mean this literally but, this is fast becoming my go to phrase of 2015. Let me tell you why. There are two things that have really surprised me about being a mother. 1) I never thought my children would assert their feelings about what they want to wear so early in life. I also thought, girls would be more prone to this behaviour (how gender bias of me), I was SO wrong. You know how you go to the supermarket and see Mothers with children half dressed or dressed in a costume with gumboots and wearing an array of accessories? and, you think smugly to yourself “why on earth did that mother let her child out in public like that?”. Well, let me tell you, she absolutely did not dress them like that and to change the attire to something more socially acceptable for the public eye would have resulted in a meltdown of epic proportions. Trust me when I say you would much rather deal with the occasional glance over and “why did she let her kid wear THAT out” than deal with said meltdown. I, am this mother. Not only have I lost all choice over what my 3 year old son wears, he has now entered a phase of extreme dress-ups! Where, anything goes. Scarfs, gumboots in 36 degree heat and usually more than one beanie at a time, capes, masks and full head to toe, superhero costumes, out in public. It’s got to the point where my son now asks “Mum, can I wear my spiderman mask and spiderman gloves to the shops?” and I pretty much just say “sure, why don’t you just wear the whole costume”.

Secondly, and this has been so far the hardest thing. Fierce independence, also to the point of biblical meltdowns, if independence is quashed. It’s testing the qualities I thought I had oodles of – patience…. calmness. I am sure somewhere its kharma for me also being a personality type that’s quite resistant to help but c’mon! Give me a break. My son has to do EVERYTHING himself. And the latest is fastening the belt buckle in the car which is supposed to be a 5-star harness rating that I am sure children (of a certain age) aren’t supposed to be able to do. Try telling this to ‘my way or the highway 3 going on 10 year old’. And, it always happens when you are tying to go somwhere in a hurry. I just want to leave and you have decided to embark on a new level of independence and today is the day you absolutely must do this yourself. As a mother of course, you let them try, and you let them try and you let them try. Small interjections of “Let me help you” or ” if you just let me help you with this part”…end in (screamed in my face, to the point of face turning a brilliant red and face semi contorted) “NO MUM……..I DO IT…..” escalated to a pure scream with his eyes almost popping out of his head at even the hint of me trying to help. Hence, one must have humour to cope. Or a seriously large bottle of vodka.

What I have learnt with my son is that you just leave the situation. I think to myself “You want to do it on your own? Fine”. So, when I get the first round of “No Mum, I’m doing it” I try to take a deep breath in, calm blue ocean, step away and leave him to it. The end result is one of two things. After 10 minutes of trying without my “presence” I will hear screams of frustration, then, silence, then “Mum……can you help me?”. Reverse psychology, I love it. Or half an hour later “Mum…..MUM!! I did it!”. I of course race back in. Applaud, applaud. Congrats son well done you did it all by yourself, congratulations we are all now 100 years old…..can we go now? Awesome.