Help your anxious child uncertain times

How to help your anxious child in uncertain times

As a general rule I think it’s best to be open and honest with our children about life and the world around us.

The problem with this is that, during uncertain times like this, I have to admit that I don’t know all the answers.  That no one knows the answers.  I can’t tell my children when the parks and swimming pools will be open again.  I can’t reassure them that they’ll be back at school and hugging their friends by a set date.

For anxious children this level of uncertainty can be really hard to cope with.  It’s hard for all of us to deal with I think.

The main thing to remember, for me as a parent, is that we’ve never been in this situation before, so no one really knows how to handle it or what the best steps to take are.

We’re all just doing our best, trying to reassure our children as best we can while keeping them safe as best we can.

There are some things we can try along the way though, that might help our anxious children in these kinds of uncertain times.

 

Practice mindfulness together

Mindfulness is a great tool for people of all ages to help with anxiety.

It’s all about slowing down and paying close attention to the world around you and to how you’re feeling.

A great way to practice this with your child is to go on a mindful walk together.  This is actually something that Rhys was asked to do as part of his school work recently and it was such a lovely thing to do together.

When you go out on a walk, stop now and then and just be still and quiet.

Ask your child to pay attention to all their senses and notice the different things they can hear, smell and feel.   You can get them to sit and put their hands on the ground, or take their shoes and socks off and stand barefoot for a few minutes.

This is great for helping us feeling more grounded and connected with nature, which has a really calming affect on our bodies and minds.

 

Keep to a simple daily routine

All of our normal routines have been completely turned upside down since the schools closed and we all started working from home.

Some children will have adjusted to this really easily, but for anxious children it will be really unsettling.

So try and create, and keep to, a new simple daily routine for them to bring back a sense of predictability to their days.

This doesn’t mean have a packed schedule each day, but keep a few things that are consistent and predictable each day, like going for a walk after lunch and having a bath and then reading together at bedtime.

 

Do kind things together for other people

When we’re feeling anxious it can be really hard to stop the worrying thoughts running through our heads.

So try and help your anxious child break this cycle by taking the focus off themselves and their thoughts by doing something kind and helpful for someone else.

Get them to make a card and then write a thoughtful message inside to send to a friend of relative.

Let them paint another rainbow to stick in the window to make passers-by smile.

Help them record a video message to their grandparents about what they’ve been up to during this time apart.

When we do kind things for other people it makes both them and us feel good, and it’s a great way to feel like you have a bit of control in uncertain times.

 

Focus on the things you can do

When everything feels out of our control it can be really scary.  So really try to focus on the things your child can do and can control.

Things like choosing to do something kind or helpful for someone else is a great place to start.

You can also talk to them about how, in the current situation with coronavirus, they can help protect themselves and other people by washing their hands properly, coughing into their elbows and limiting their contact with other people for a while.

 

Acknowledge and normalise their feelings

It’s so important to reassure your child that whatever they’re feeling at the moment is completely fine, valid and normal.

Let them express to you how they’re feeling, and encourage them to sit with those emotions for a bit instead of brushing them aside.

They might be feeling scared, angry, sad, hopeful, helpless, happy, nervous, and all sorts of other emotions, possibly all in one day, and that is just fine.

 

Add in positives

Once you’ve acknowledged what your child is feeling you can help them again by ‘adding in’ a positive to go alongside it.

So if they’re feeling scared and anxious about the current situation you can encourage them to add courage or strength to that emotion.

If they’re sad about not seeing their friends, help them to also be happy and grateful that we have the technology now to be able to video chat with them.

It’s not about taking away from what they’re feeling, but adding in more positive, helpful emotions to guide them through.

 

 

When the whole world feels strange and everything feels uncertain, we’re all going to feel more anxious than usual.

But hopefully some of these ideas and strategies will help if your child, or you, are finding it all particularly hard.

Do you have any other tips for things that help you or your child when you’re feeling anxious?  I’d love to hear them in the comments if you do.

Encouraging curiosity in your child

Encouraging curiosity within your child

Children are naturally curious because they have a lot to learn about the world around them.

Curiosity is important at any age because, without it, we would cease to learn anything new. That’s why it’s important for parents to encourage the inquisitive side of their child, as explored below by a private school in Hampshire.

 

First of all, make sure that when your child is asking you questions, you don’t shut them down.

Obviously, when you are busy and your child is nagging, it can be easy to shrug them off but if you do, they will be reluctant to ask you again. Instead, try and answer their questions or tell them that you will do some research and come back to them later when you’re not as busy.

If you don’t know the answer, be honest, and help your child find the answer by looking it up online or in a book.

 

Another way to stimulate your child’s curiosity is to ensure they are experiencing new things on a regular basis.

This doesn’t mean you have to take them on a fancy holiday to a foreign country, it could be something simple like trying a new recipe or playing a new board game. Just try and mix up the routine from time to time so that your child has the opportunity to learn about things outside of their little bubble.

 

As a parent, you should always try and model the behaviour you’d like to see in your child.

So, if you want them to be curious, you should be curious too. For example, on a rainy day you could ask “do you know where the rain comes from?” or if you’re trying a new recipe you could say “I wonder how long this needs to go in the oven”. Show your child that it’s perfectly normal to ask questions, experience new things and learn about the world around us.

Let them see you embarking on a new hobby and encourage them to do the same.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Things you learn when you become a parent

Things you find out when you become a parent

Becoming a parent is an exciting and scary time in your life, no matter what age you are when you find out you’re having a child, it can be quite overwhelming initially. However, this is often because becoming a parent is delving into the unknown and the unknown is what scares a lot of people. Even if you’re a grown adult who thinks they’ve got their life together, you still need to prepare yourself for life as a parent. 

Below we have listed some of the things you will find out when you become a parent, we hope that this list prepares you for what’s to come, both the good and the bad things included. Remember, no one is perfect so you’re going to have days when you don’t feel good enough.

It’s OK though, you can be strong for your new little one and be the best parent you can. Ultimately, no one is scoring points and they’re not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do when your baby arrives. For now, just prepare yourself for the future. 

 

 

Things aren’t always easy

 

Have you ever seen those TV shows that depict parenting as a breeze? Even just the adverts sometimes aren’t realistic at all. In reality, things aren’t always going to be easy. Even if you have a baby who is relatively calm and quiet most of the time, there will be times they cry and whine. Despite this, it’s the beauty of parenting. The sooner you get used to your new reality, the better. After all, when you’re a parent, you’re a parent forever so it might be time to get used to how things are.

Also, take advice from people who have been there before, things that aren’t easy will end soon, there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you’re struggling with parenthood now, it’s not going to last forever. Keep this in mind, even during the more difficult days. 

 

 

Choosing clothes and accessories is difficult

 

Let’s be honest here, every parent wants their children to have the latest clothes and most beautiful accessories. Yet, this isn’t how it will work. There are hundreds of beautiful baby clothes out there and it’s difficult to choose something both you and the child love. Plus, when you enter any good pram shop, you will be overwhelmed with surprise at how great everything is. You will definitely want it all. This is especially true for new parents who have never experienced buying for their own baby before. You will want to buy the whole baby store as soon as you enter, but your bank balance simply won’t let you!

 

 

Your cooking skills don’t matter

 

Despite what people say, your cooking skills don’t have to be of a certain calibre, why? Babies and little ones will practically eat anything. You may spend your entire pregancy trying to read up on the best ways to boil or poach or cook an egg, but ultimately, if your child is going to eat it, they will eat it. The taste most likely doesn’t matter, if they’re hungry they will eat. However, it is key to remember that during the early stages of their life, you may find that your baby is very opposed to a certain food or drink, this may be because of an allergy, if this is the case, you may want to take them to the doctors/hospital to be assessed! 

 

 

Everyone will judge you

 

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but some people will definitely display this opinion more than others. Whether you breast or bottle feed will be judged along with many other things.

It’s for this reason that you need to realise, what other people think and say doesn’t matter.

As long as you’re doing what you think is right by your child, then you will be fine. Simply do your own parenting style and just take every day as it comes because everyone has their own way of parenting and if you don’t do things the way they do, they will most likely judge you. 

 

 

It is possible to function on 4 hours sleep

 

This is something every parent is capable of! When you’re a new parent and only have a little baby, you will need to learn to function on as little sleep as possible. Those long 10 or 8 hours of sleep everyday will soon become a distant memory because your little one will most likely be awake for a lot of it.

However, despite the lack of sleep – you will still love them unconditionally and becoming a parent is just the start of your new life, it’s all very interesting and exciting!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

I hope my children are kind

I just hope my children are kind

What hopes do you have for your children?

I know some people want particular things for their children; they want them to grow up to be doctors or high flyers in a particular career.  I always thought I just want my children to be happy, but as they go out more and more into the world on their own I’m realising that, actually, I just hope for them to be kind.

 

I want them to be happy too, of course I do, but really that will most likely come as part and parcel of them being kind.

There’s a Roald Dahl quote that I really love that says, “I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being.  I’ll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else …  Kindness – that simple word.  To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind.  If you’re kind that’s it”

 

If you’re kind that’s it.

 

It says it all really.  If you’re kind, all those other positive traits will most likely follow.  It just all starts with kindness.

I think that we’re all born with a natural instinct to be kind.  A recent study at the University of Washington actually found that even at 19 months old children will give a tasty snack to a stranger they think needs it.  Even when they’re hungry themselves.

So as adults, we just need to nurture these instincts in our children.

We need to show them kindness.

They need to see us being kind to our friends and just as kind to strangers.

We need to talk to them, often, about how important it is to be kind and point out all the opportunities we have each day to show kindness to other people.

 

I definitely believe that kindness has a ripple effect.

When you do something kind for someone else, chances are they’ll carry that with them through their day.  And they’ll be more likely to pay it forward, to do something nice for someone else.  And it goes on and on.  A gentle wave of kindness.

And that would make anyone feel happy wouldn’t it?

make mornings easier by planning ahead

Plan ahead to make your mornings easier

If your family life is anything like mine, then you’ll know that mornings can be stressful at times.

It can be a rush and a race to get everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door on time to get to school and work.  The main thing I’ve learnt over the last few years is that taking a bit of time the night before to plan ahead for the next day can make the mornings so much easier.

 

Here are my ideas for some of the things you can do to plan ahead and get sorted the night before so that your mornings run that little bit more smoothly.

 

  • Get lunch ready.  If you and/or your children take packed lunches to work/school, then get these made in the evening and pop them in the fridge to keep them fresh.  If you make sandwiches for lunches then you could even go one step further and make a whole week’s worth on a Sunday and stash them in the freezer.  Nyomi has a great post on freezing sandwiches over on Nomipalony.

 

  • Make breakfast easier by prepping the night before.  This could be as simple as putting out bowls and cereal where your children can reach them so they can start sorting themselves out in the morning.  Or you could make something like overnight oats so you have a nutritious breakfast ready to go when you wake up.

 

  • Check your calendar to make sure you know what’s planned for the next day.  If you or your children need anything specific (like homework, cash for charity events, PE kit/gym kit) then get those things packed and ready by the front door so you’re not scrabbling round to find them in the morning.  Making sure school backpacks are packed and ready with everything your children need for school, and get your own bag packed too.  If you have a baby to get to nursery, then pack up their change bag.

 

  • Get clothes out and ready.  For the children this will probably  just be a case of setting out school uniform and clean underwear, but it’s also worth checking the weather forecast to see if they’ll need wellies or warm hats/gloves in the winter or a sunhat in the summer.  It’s also worth checking the forecast so you can plan and put out your own clothes for the next day so you’re not wasting time in the morning trying to decide what to wear.

 

  • Leave things you absolutely have to remember to take with you right by the front door.  This way you’ll have to get past them to leave the house, so hopefully there’ll be no chance you’ll leave without them.

 

  • Set alarms.  A lot of people swear by setting their alarms for a time before their children wake up in the mornings, so they can have a cuppa in peace first thing.  I’ve not mastered this one myself yet but can definitely see the appeal of it.  The one thing I do do is set alarms on my phone to remind me of things we need to grab and another to prompt me and the children when it’s time to go and brush teeth, get shoes on and head out the door.

 

You don’t have to do all of these things, although mornings would be so much easier if you do, but even just one or two of them will make a difference in how your mornings go.

Do you tend to get things ready for the morning the night before?

Are there any other things you do to make mornings easier that I’ve not mentioned?

Squeeze more quality time into family life

How to squeeze more quality time into busy family life

I’m not sure it really gets easier does it.

Parenting and juggling family life I mean.

You move from one phase to the next and each one brings its own challenges.  The biggest challenge for most of us I think is having enough hours in the day to get everything done.  And you think when your children start school it’ll get easier but somehow the hours and days and weeks are still full.

Whether you’re a stay at home parent or someone who works outside the home, when you’re juggling everything that busy family life throws at you, it can be really hard to feel like you’re getting enough quality time with your children.

 

The thing we all need to remember is that it really is about the quality of the time we spend with our children, not the quantity.

We can all stop feeling guilty about not having hours and hours to spend reading with our children, on the floor playing with them or listening to their endless stories.  What our children need from us is little moments of time throughout the day where they have our absolute focus.

They need to feel that they’re important, that they’re worthy of our undivided attention.

And, really, that is more achievable through small, repeated moments rather than one big block of time once a week.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some ideas of how to find those little windows of time:

 

Organise your mornings so you can sit and have breakfast together

I’m so guilty of making breakfast for my children and then leaving them to it while I rush around sorting out lunch boxes and swimming kits, grabbing sips of tea when I can.

Getting just a bit more organised would mean I could sit with my children, just for ten minutes, and eat breakfast with them.

If you can make the time for that to happen then you can talk.  Turn the tv off and put away your phone and just chat.  Ask them about what they’re looking forward to doing at school that day.  Get them to tell you about the friends they want to sit with at lunch time.

 

Make the most of the school run

If you’re the one to take the children to school and pick them up again, then make the most of that travel time each day.

When I collect my children from school I get them to each tell me 2 things from their day.  One thing they learnt about and one thing that made them happy.  Asking this tends to get me more information about their day than if I just ask “what did you do today?”.

I love this little insight into their school day and they get to know that I’m interested, that I want to know what they’ve been up to and I care about what’s made them happy that day.

We generally drive to and from school, so my attention is obviously split, so if you can walk to school then you really can make that time focused, quality time with your children.

 

Get them in the kitchen with you

Early evenings are often the same as mornings in our house.  We come home from school and the children often play by themselves while I head out to the kitchen to sort out dinner and get lunches made for the next day.

That’s another window of time though that could be spent together.

There are a few ways you can use that time.  You can get the children involved in cooking their tea, or they can help with getting the lunches made while dinner is in the oven.  Or you can set them up with their homework at the kitchen table so you can sit with them and talk to them about it when the cooking doesn’t require your attention.

 

Build quality time into the bedtime routine

If you work outside the home then you might not be able to do some of the other things I’ve mentioned, but if you’re home for bedtime then you can squeeze some quality time in then.

Leave your phone and any other distractions downstairs when you go up for the children’s bedtime.

Spend 15 minutes reading to them, or listening to them read to you.

Have a 5 minute chat about your days.  Ask them what made them happy that day, and tell them something from your day that made you smile.

And remember to give everyone a long hug goodnight.

 

Once you start looking you’ll hopefully be able to find more of these little windows of time.

See where you can include your children in things like cooking meals and popping to the shops.  You might not think they’d want to come out with you to pick up some milk and bread but you’d be surprised. It might be an annoying chore to us, but our children often see it for what it really is, a chance to get a bonus 20 minutes of time with you.

Just remember that it really is about the quality, not the quantity, of time we spend with our children.  Find those moments where you can and spend them completely with your family.

Dealing with car sickness kids

Dealing with travel sickness in kids

Travel sickness in kids can put parents on tenterhooks even for short road trips. It can turn what was supposed to be an exciting adventure into a nightmare.

Around one in three people are susceptible to motion sickness but it is much more common among children, for reasons not fully understood.

Travel sickness is a complex syndrome believed to be caused by conflicting signals in body senses and often stops when you switch activities or cease the motion. When your kid experiences motion sickness, they usually feel dizzy, develop a fever, or feel nauseous. The illness can really dampen the mood of your trip for everyone.

Fortunately, you can manage travel sickness in kids with the following tips.

Ensure your kid sits in the right position

Choosing the correct sitting location in the car can significantly reduce motion sickness. Therefore, you should place your child’s car seat at the backseat of your vehicle, preferably in the middle.

The middle gives an uninterrupted view of the horizon through the front window.

Focusing on a single view will prevent sickness by controlling their senses. You should also advise your kids to rest their heads against the seat. It will control the movements of their heads, which can otherwise cause disorientation.

 

Avoid screens and make sure they do not read in the car

Kids love playing video games on the road or watching movies in the backseat. However, if they are prone to travel sickness, video games and movies are a big no-no. The stimulations used in movies cause conflicts in their senses, worsening the symptoms.

Reading also confuses the sensory elements because the ears can detect motion, but the eyes are fixed to the book. You should find low-tech games for your kids to enjoy on the road.

Better yet, they can listen to music or audiobooks.

 

Find the appropriate time to travel

Children are far less likely to suffer from motion sickness when they fall asleep. So it makes sense to try and plan your trip around your child’s naptime.

If your kid is sleeping, their visual signals are non-existent, meaning there are minimal chances of conflicts in senses.

Also travelling at night is an excellent way to eliminate carsickness.

 

Kids should not travel on an empty stomach

Many parents think that travelling on an empty stomach prevents motion sickness. The reality is it worsens the symptoms of nausea. While they should not overeat, they should have some food in their stomachs before departure. Give your child easy to digest meals or bland snacks that are rich in protein.

You should avoid greasy and spicy fast food before a long ride as they tend to cause a stomach upset.

To prevent nausea, stick to ginger and peppermint snacks. A few sips of water can also reduce the likelihood of your trip being messy due to carsickness.

 

Watch out for symptoms

It is critical to prevent the symptoms of motion sickness as soon as it starts since they tend to escalate quickly. The illness may not stop until you cease moving entirely. Therefore, if your child starts experiencing symptoms like dizziness or nausea, encourage them to do some breathing exercises to normalise their stomachs. If they are developing a fever, have them remove some clothes.

If they can also close their eyes for a couple of minutes, the feeling of dizziness will stop. However, if the symptoms intensify, pull over and let them rest for a few minutes. It would help if you kept the car window open for fresh air circulation. Excellent ventilation reduces the symptoms significantly.

 

Try medication

When preventive measures seem ineffective, you can seek advice from your paediatrician. They will likely recommend medication that prevents nausea on the road. While Dramamine is safe for kids, it has side effects. Your kid may not be able to enjoy their trip since they will arrive at the destination feeling drowsy. Medicine can only be given to children over two years old. Therefore, if your child is below two, try other techniques of managing motion sickness.

 

There are numerous ways to control motion sickness, but the problem is that not all of them are effective for all children.  For example, acupressure or simple distraction might work for some kids, but not for others.  Fortunately, when your kid hits adolescence, they will hopefully have outgrown the sickness.  It’s just a case of handling it as best you can in the mean time!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post