So your child’s birthday should be all about celebrating and creating a memorable occasion for you child right?
What about the parents who have had a traumatic birth, or a tough lead up to the birth or complications after the birth? Or just a plain stressful time that was not how they imagined it would be? How do these feelings fit into a birthday every year to remind you about it all?
Only recently have I worked out that if I allow myself to ‘feel’ ALL the feelings around Master 4-today’s birth and the 4 years following, it actually wasn’t all that rosy and in fact brings back some rather unpleasant memories.
You see, I was caught out at work one day 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant and felt some strong Braxton Hicks. With my husband away for work, I was in denial it could be labour (although my gut knew something was up and I’ve since learnt to trust that more!). The end result was moments of sheer panic as I was told yes I was in labour and that I may have to be transferred to a different hospital that coped with premmie births and babies. All whilst organising a friend to pack my bag at home, nurses jabbing me with steroids and trying to get through to my husband to get on a plane ASAP. The adrenalin was enough for a lifetime, especially with a first time birth and not knowing what was ahead. The good news was, I didn’t have to transfer hospitals and my husband (and sister) made it for the birth. The birth was every pregnant woman’s dream but it was the aftermath that laid the scars for me…..
It only hit me after the birth of Master nearly2 that ‘hey, I missed out on holding my first born straight after he was born’. It is something that I have previously put down to ‘it was just lucky he was okay and he didn’t need oxygen, being born at 33+6. I have to just be thankful for that’, but deep down, my instincts as a mum were still very hurt that they never got to experience that beautiful moment with him, like I did my second born.
It still hurts a lot that I could only hold my first born twice a day for the first 3 week of his life whilst he spent the rest of the time in the isolette (humidicrib).
And I will never forget the first 7.5 months of his life without more than 3 hours sleep in a row, once in the night and a 45 minute rock to sleep for the little boy for every put down of the day/night.
I’m not spreading this story to say ‘poor me’, but more to ask ‘is anyone else out there, harbouring scars and emotions from the birth of their child/children?’. And yes, it’s okay to feel that way. I have finally had the time and energy to allow myself to feel the disappointment, hurt and other scary feelings that I had to bury for so long, just to get through it all and this is healing.
So today, I have acknowledged the past and am very happy to be living in the present moment (Are you a mindful parent?) where I can really celebrate with my gorgeous son.
I would love to hear any of your stories… Heidi
We love this banana bread! In fact, we bake it twice a week and use it for any meal (except for dinner..). It is gluten, dairy, sugar and nut free and even better, it has no preservatives and uses healthy coconut flour and tahini. The best thing that I would pick about this recipe, is that it is perfect for little ones to help in the preparation.
Being a Speech Pathologist, I will always take an opportunity to throw some language out there. Here are some of the language-learning opportunities:
- counting out 8 dates (and the other child can count them as they place them in the bowl)
- talking about cup or spoon measures – ‘one over two means half a cup’ or ‘see TBL means tablespoon‘
- elicit the cooking actions by asking ‘what do we do with this one?’. You might expect terms such as scoop, measure, peel, grind, pour.
- and the fun one… make sure you put the bicarb soda in first, then put the lemon juice (or we substitute a good dash of Apple Cider Vinegar when organic lemons aren’t in season) in – ‘FIZZ, BUBBLE….It’s a science experiment!!!’
And here is the link to the recipe Wholefood Simply Banana Bread. We substitute cinnamon for carob, for a change and also use Apple Cider Vinegar (with ‘mother’ – healthier) instead of lemon juice when organic lemons are out of season.
And then!!! We add a banana and some almond milk to the leftover batter in our Thermomix and blend for a banana bread shake!
Let me know what you think! ps – we use the 5 egg recipe (one of the reasons we have now got chooks!).
Kids play the best when toys are set up, ‘inviting’ them to play. Once your children have enough language to play imaginatively, you can really invite them to play with a weekly theme throughout the house. Whilst it takes that bit longer to set up, you will be sure to get many more play hours from your little ones.
So! What will your theme be? It didn’t take me long to pick animals + hospital/doctors/vets. Master nearly4 loves animals and he and Master nearly 2 are both into doctors at the moment. And of course, an animal theme is not too unfamiliar for Master nearly2. Pretend play – your child’s occupation will give you more information on the different skills pretend play consists of. Language means play will give you more information on the development of play and how language goes hand in hand.
This is where you think about ALL the items in your house that might come under this theme. So I went for everything animal, from our Aussie Animal cards to our baby dinosaurs to our farm animals. And then you add in everyday items that would be useful props for the scenes, such as ribbons for bandages, cotton wool for the babies, wooden dish rack for the operating table/sick bay and pipe cleaners for their own imagination. And then you can drag out any other props that might be useful, such as adding our cardboard box bus stop/airport and our Little People plane and bus for transporting the sick/recovered animals between the hospital and the wild.
Because I had so many sets of toys out, I created mini scenes in different rooms of the house. The next thing to do was to introduce the boys to each scene and promote some different play actions, to get them started. I also assigned doctor and nurse roles (big brother and little brother roles really!). And then you sit back (or race to the kitchen or clothesline) and reap the benefits of excited play! Here are some of the benefits..
Benefits of themed play
The story is halfway there, so the kids don’t have to create one from scratch (ideal for the younger ones)
You can easily give many hints at new play actions. I have used: ‘go and check if bull’s fever has gone’, ‘I think panda needs his bath now’, ‘giraffe might be ready to go back into the wild, but before you put him on the plane, remember to check his heartbeat and temperature’, ‘the baby dinosaurs will all need a feed and why don’t you ask your brother to help you take them back to the wild in the bus’, ‘it might be time to help bull to get to sleep, it’s hard to settle when you have a fever’, ‘nearly your bedtime, go and give the night doctors their handover, what they will need to do while you are sleeping’…. I have even rung their pretend phone (an otoscope) as an anonymous caller letting them know of a sick hippo out in the wild. Next thing they are receiving calls from each other!
- There is a variety of toys out so different ages are still catered to
- A child can walk into any room and make up a mini-story there, OR play between several scenes in across different rooms
Here are some photos to share with you all!
What will your play theme be this week? Be creative and drum up some excitement! Guaranteed it will pass over to your kids and you will have a fun week Heidi
When it becomes obvious that your child is reacting to something, be it a food or an allergen or even an emotional issue, it can be overwhelming to know what to do and where to start. You might be worried about your child’s skin, their inability to sleep well or a recurring redness in their genitals, their behaviour or a low immunity or many other symptoms that just aren’t ‘quite right’. Most people will visit their doctor to begin with but others may be in need of further answers. Many don’t know about the benefits of kinesiology in achieving balance in the body, particularly for children.
What is kinesiology?
Kinesiology, the study of movement, is an alternative and holistic therapy, combining both Eastern and Western medicine. It is holistic in that it looks at health as a whole and addresses the physical body as well as the environment and psychological state of each individual. By monitoring muscle movements or biofeedback, kinesiologists can determine where there is a block in energy be it structural, chemical or emotional, within the body. This allows kinesiology to address stress, allergies and food sensitivities, nervous disorders, muscle, bone and joint pain, headaches, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, insomnia, and emotional issues.
And so kinesiology becomes extremely useful in determining exactly what is giving your child a reaction.
Benefits of kinesiology
It is non-invasive. It can be done through a ‘surrogate’ and thus your child may not even need to visit the kinesiologist with you. But otherwise, testing of food sensitivities or emotional issues is all done whilst the child may be sitting, holding their parent’s hand. The kinesiologist pushes downward on your extended arm to reveal a strong or weak response with your child’s biofeedback.
- Anything and everything can be tested for sensitivity. This means you can see for yourself how different brands of food may react differently for your child. You will also be able to see the difference between organic and non-organic foods. You can test everything from children’s medicines to sunscreens to allergens such as latex (and whether this differs between balloons, bandaids and bananas – yes it is quite common for those with sensitivity to latex to have a banana sensitivity too).
- It can save wiping out a whole food group if it is only some products that are the issue. For example, organic corn thins and corn chips giving a strong response but organic corn cobs and tinned corn giving a weak response.
- It is less mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting than starting an elimination diet from scratch. The kinesiologist can test your child with a large range of food groups straight up and from there can hone in on different products and items involving chemicals in your child’s environment.
- It can shed light on emotional issues impacting your child’s system and thus how their body reacts to different foods when under different emotional stress. This may involve emotional clearing and allowing parents to become aware of the stressors in their child’s life.
- It helps parents to question what is in the food they are serving their children and to use their own resources in determining the culprits.
- You can claim it through private health insurance or make it more reasonable by accessing a kinesiologist who is also a chiropractor. Chiropractors tend to do shorter sessions, so whilst it may not be as thorough, you won’t be paying for longer sessions (but you will get a chiropractic check up for your child too, making it even more holistic).
So yes, kinesiology is controversial as it is not visible to the naked eye as to exactly how it works and it is not under the medical profession however, it can be a very helpful way to achieve balance in your child. The only difficult thing is… you will have to be prepared to eliminate foods and chemicals or discuss any emotional issues with your child, to help them achieve balance.
If you need answers for your child but are unsure, why not give it a go and see it for yourself. Alternatively, you can access an IgG blood test through an alternative medicine practitioner which will test your child for intolerances to many foods. But not to be confused with an IgE blood/prick test which will test for allergic reactions.
Please let me know if kinesiology has helped your family. Heidi
Well it’s on for a limited time. Any parent who is keen to teach their little one some signs (from 6 months +), first get your head around the ins and outs at Do I get on this baby sign bandwagon or not?…..
And if you’re still keen to give your little one a great brain workout (and yourself!!!), here is your first challenge.
- more bath toys
- more cereal
- more (insert favourite song)
- more blocks up on the tower…..
If your baby lets you, you can take their hand and show them how to do it. One thing to remember… don’t hold things back from your child because they aren’t attempting the sign. You would only do this once you have SEEN your little one doing it at least once.
If you have any other questions, please ask away!
Are your kids learning to read? Don’t forget about non-words!
[Looking after yourself as a parent] Do you find you’ve sometimes driven somewhere and don’t remember actually driving there? Or end up ruminating on past events whilst doing the chores? Do you spend more time planning the shopping list and weekend’s tasks in your mind than the time it takes you to actually just get in there and get it done? Does your mind end up in a different place whilst reading the kids a book? Read on to find out more about how to step out of your mind and into your life, and your important role as a parent!
What is mindfulness?
Whilst this term has many different meanings and people from all walks of life will practice it differently according to their circumstances, here are some ideas of how I, as a parent, have understood ‘mindfulness’.
- training your mind to be concerned only with the present moment
- finding ways to turn your ‘monkey mind’ off, the one that keeps dragging your mind to chattering, negative or ruminating thoughts
- judging thoughts and gossip about others no longer have a place in your mind
- only being concerned with your own self and not the worries of others (whilst parenting does bring a sense of responsibility, we can also allow our children to live their own lives)
- dealing with any task at the time and not spending extra energy planning for it ahead of time
- like yoga, mindfulness is a ‘practice‘, so you are always learning to get better at it!
Don’t forget you can take a peep into the past or future when needed, but the main aim of mindfulness is to avoid getting distracted by anything that isn’t in the present.
The benefits of mindfulness
- it can be used as a wonderful stress-relief tool for personal or parenting issues
- it helps us to improve the sharpness and clarity of our mind and in turn improves our memory
- this sharpness helps us to stay on track in our busy days and become more efficient…at everything!
- it helps us to notice how we react to our children, particularly in trying times
- it allows us to slow down and take the time to appreciate our children (and our life)
- it can be done discretely anywhere, anytime
- principles can be taught to your children to help increase their confidence and resiliency
How do I become mindful?
The most difficult part is catching your mind when it is not in the present or playing up. Whether your mind is stuck on past events, judging others, worrying about things to come or just plain chattering away, the first step is to recognise when you are doing this. Yes, this does account for the majority of people’s thoughts! You might spend a week just naming any thoughts, be it judging, ruminating, worrying or chatter and planning.
As suggested in the book The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris, take the time to sit back and allow your mind to let any thoughts come in. As they float in, acknowledge them and let them float straight back out….then sit and wait for any others to come along…and do the same. It is to demonstrate that you don’t have to ‘entertain’ any of these thoughts and will get your mind accustomed to ‘letting things go’.
Now let’s think of some thoughts that you will want to stop in their tracks!
getting annoyed by your husband’s dirty washing on the floor – talk to him about it later, but move on
planning what you will say to your annoying brother on the car ride there – with a clear mind, you will say it better at the time
- ‘I can’t believe she just did that!!’ after your child poured water over the couch – you have dealt with it and know better for next time, move on
- worrying about how you will deal with the evening witching hour whilst your husband is away – with a clear mind, you will deal with it better at the time
- remembering how your life used to be pre-kids – give it a quick acknowledgement and come back to what you have right now..
So once you have identified a thought that isn’t in the present, how can you stop it…and where do you send your mind to then? Below are some strategies on stepping out of your mind and into living life and being a parent.
- Breathe! Place your hand on your belly and ensure you push it out as you inhale, pull it in as you exhale. No shoulder breathing!
- Take notice of your surroundings, your present moment. What can you see around you? The traffic lights? The clothes line? The trees? Your children? What can you smell? What can you hear? This is the time to take the attitude of gratitude, which helps to move away from the negative monkey mind!
- Breathe. Check in. Are you still breathing deeply with your belly and not your shoulders?
- Feel your feet on the ground. It can help to sit or stand up straight which brings your mind to attention and helps you to breathe with your diaphragm better too.
- Now you might consider your feelings and thoughts. What were those thoughts in your mind? Were they just cluttering your mind? Did you have feelings attached to those thoughts? It can be useful to identify any feelings you may need to deal with (that’s when you turn to the book The Happiness Trap for information on how to do this).
- Next you might consider if your body was reflecting these thoughts and feelings. Did you feel tension, strain or pain anywhere? Did you feel any heaviness? How were you breathing as you caught yourself?
How else can I help my mind?
Sometimes our children can bring on the thoughts, the planning ahead or the tension. But they can also be the solution!
- With an attitude of gratitude, take the time to notice your child’s eyelashes, their hair or the way they smile. Does this calm you?
Other practices dedicated to focussing on stepping out of the mind are:
- tai chi
- reading books (have a look for Dr Russ Harris and Dan Spiegel)
Did you know most people can only stay focussed from six to ten seconds and then become distracted? So you will need to really remind yourself to be present, regularly throughout the day. You can set an alarm or put up a few post-its, ‘be present!’, ‘breathe’ around the house. There are even mindfulness apps out there. Before you know it, your mind will be clearer, your days will be easier and you will enjoy being a parent even more. It’s never too early or late to start!