20 goals to inspire you to reach for a healthy and happy 2015

Hello friend!

So I’m guessing you rate HEALTH and HAPPINESS as priority #1 and #2 for yourself and your family?  But!… Do your values match your actions?

Here are 20 goals to inspire you to reach for a HEALTHY AND HAPPY 2015!

Remember, as a parent, you might need to work on your own health and happiness before you can possibly pass this onto your family…

Pick a goal, small or large and write it down.  Not only do your thoughts become your reality, but when you write them down, it is 10000x more likely to happen (well thereabouts!).

Here’s some ideas, but please consider what is important to YOU!

  1. I will make some food from scratch. Kale chips, coconut yoghurt, beetroot dip…
  2. I will be a ‘good enough’ parent who doesn’t stop to feel bad over what I haven’t managed to achieve and I will focus on MY skills, rather than someone else’s. No more PERFECTION!
  3. I will buy the ‘Dirty Dozen’ foods organically, to reduce my family’s toxic burden.
  4. I will take time out for myself. Exercise, meditation, socialising, reading, whatever makes my heart sing and my soul happy.
  5. I will give out love more freely. My children do not have to ‘behave’ to still be loved.  I will offer a hug, even when they have slipped up.
  6. I will BREATHE more often. I will not let frustration get me worked up nearly as often.  I will own my reactions to my children’s behaviour.
  7. I will increase the variety of foods I offer my children, by thinking outside the box.
  8. I will visit a health food store, even just to take in what there is to offer.
  9. I will try natural sunscreen, to avoid the chemical onslaught of the ‘toxic’ ones.
  10. I will buy some Epsom salts, for a relaxing, detoxing bath for the whole family (not all at once!).
  11. I will consider an elimination test if I suspect a food is not so good for myself or my little ones.
  12. I will practice mindfulness and show my children I do not need to make judgements, but can understand where people are coming from. Everyone is fighting their own battle…
  13. I will use my intuition, my ‘gut feeling’, to help navigate tricky parenting decisions.
  14. I will introduce probiotics to my family or look into eliminating candida and parasites.
  15. I will find gratitude every day. And model this to my family.  There will be less need for materialism.  More time for the ‘little things’.
  16. I will model naming my feelings in front of my children. And encourage them to do the same.
  17. I will make my first chicken broth..and then keep it coming, in the winter!
  18. I will build my family’s immunity through extra greens, broth, probiotics, alkalising foods such as lemon and reducing sugar.
  19. I will nurture my relationship with my partner…and take time out from the kids.
  20. I will keep following The Healthy Caterpillar for my ideas and inspiration on the above!

What will your goal be?  I’d looooove to know.  Maybe I could help you?  The more people I can inspire and help this year, the happier I will be too.  So help me to help you…

Leave a comment or send a message and I’ll aim to write some ideas to help you achieve your 2015 goals!

PS – I’ve been offline for a bit, changing I Raise My Kids over to The Healthy Caterpillar.  At this point, you can find me on Facebook at The Healthy Caterpillar.  I am still working towards a blog and website, whilst I study to become a family health coach.  Thanks for your patience 🙂 Heidi

A cup full of love…for me

 

Last week the parenting gods battered me (I’m sure I’m not the only one!)… But how do you take care of yourself, like ‘they’ tell you to, when you just don’t have the time?
On this day I didn’t even have the time to get to yoga, so I found a quicker way to give myself love.

I came across this tahini/date/pear smoothie (thanks Janella Purcell).
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Whilst I don’t feel the need for ’emotional eating’, I figured this would be a nutritious and filling snack AND would give me an opportunity to be mindful, taking the time to make myself something I wouldn’t normally, along with the cinnamon sprinkle on top!  I didn’t even multitask.

By slowing down to make this smoothie, knowing it wouldn’t take THAT long out of my day, I’ve given myself a little bit back.  Cinnamon and a warm drink didn’t go astray either.

I’d love to know the small things you do for yourself as a parent, even when you don’t have the time!


Keep your mind on Old MacDonald!

Can you do this mindfulness activity?
The next time you sing a song or read a book to your little ones, STAY PRESENT!  That means no thinking about the chores you still need to do, that item you need to put on the shopping list or how tired you are.  Your aim is to stay in the moment and enjoy the few minutes with your child.  And take notice if they react differently to you giving them 100% attention!

I know my singing voice is definitely ‘better’ and I enjoy the book more too 🙂 Heidi

Mindful children – the answer to the future

Imagine having a child that is learning to be more mindful of others, at one with their natural environment and able to calm and regulate their emotions?  This is just some of the benefits of teaching your child about mindfulness.  If you’re not sure what mindfulness is about, you can get a quick induction by reading my previous post ‘Are you a mindful parent?’.  Now we can apply this to children.

Children are more in touch with their senses than us adults are.  They use these to learn from their world whilst us grown ups are busy thinking, thinking, thinking, but not necessarily feeling.  Without realising, our children might be a step further along their mindfulness practice than we are.  They just need us to guide them.  And this is why it is important to have a think about how mindful you are and start to become a role model of this.

The following list of activities is just a small start to get you thinking about the types of situations that are ideal for encouraging mindfulness with your children.

  • Eat outside.  This can be any meal or snack of the day.  Breakfast outside? Why not.  After school snack outside? Why not.  Eating itself is a great mindfulness activity.  Talk about the foods you are eating, the colours, the textures, the smell and even the sounds while you are crunching capsicum or snapping beans.  By eating outside, you can help your children to take in the sights, sounds and smells around them.

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  • Have a sing-a-long or blow some bubbles.  Singing and bubble blowing (letting the kids blow, that is!) involves using diaphragmatic breathing.  This encourages relaxation straight away, not to mention focussing on an engaging task.
  • Practice kids yoga.  The ultimate in breathing, body awareness, relaxation and enjoying the outdoors!  ‘Let the children show you how yoga is done’ gives you a run-down of how to get started.

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  • Get the kids washing each other’s hair!  Receiving a massage from a sibling is a great mindful activity.  Using a shampoo with essential oils also makes this an enticing olfactory exercise too.
  • Read books that focus on the child or their body.  ‘From Head to Toe’ by Eric Carle encourages your child to do animal actions.  ‘I Grow in Grandad’s Garden’ by Brian Andrew is a wonderful aide to help your child talk about their worries, feelings, dreams and gratitude.
  • Take the time to appreciate life and each other.  This could be as simple as encouraging the kids to thank the earth and farmers for the veggies they are eating, imagining how empty life would be without each other and appreciating the small actions of love they have received that day (for example, another child sharing with them, a sibling singing them a song or a hug from Daddy).
  • Study nature together.  Whether it’s talking about the weather, noticing the shapes of leaves or checking out the stars, this helps your child to look past their worries and to use their senses.
I wonder what the clouds are telling us today..

I wonder what the clouds are telling us today..

As you can see, these ideas are mostly activities that involve being outdoors (and taking conscious note of it), using the senses (and taking conscious note of it) or requiring children to move their bodies (and taking conscious note of it!).  This all helps your child to achieve more mindfulness.  And hopefully inspires you too!

What ideas can you come up with?

Have you signed up to follow I Raise My Kids yet?

Let the children show you how yoga is done!

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Despite being more of a physical exercise for adults, yoga for children possibly has more benefits for their brain and mind.  Let’s first look at the benefits of introducing yoga to your little ones.  What’s in it for them?

No age is too young to start!

No age is too young to start!

Yoga connects the body, mind and spirit.  Children are very in touch with their intuition at a young age however, our early education system promotes a focus on the child’s ‘mental body’.  Children are prompted to learn literacy and numeracy from a young age.  Shifting their attention to these cognitive tasks, draws attention away from important right brain development which is responsible for creativity and imagination.  It is also the reason that many of us as adults have lost our ability to use our intuition, creative skills and the ability to just ‘feel’.  Yoga helps children to access their ‘spiritual body’, to be creative, to use their ‘gut instinct’ and their senses, by paying attention to their breathing, body and surrounding environment.

yoga's finished...time to listen to the sounds around us

yoga’s finished…time to listen to the sounds around us

Yoga promotes increased focus and attention.  It provides your child with a useful toolkit of self-calming strategies, particularly teaching how to breathe and relax.  It is also a useful strategy to promote mindfulness.  See more about mindfulness here.

Yoga teaches your child about body awareness.  Brain development occurs very quickly when a child has to work out where their body is in space.  How do they move their body to get into THAT pose?  And from cobra pose on their tummy, to downward dog on their hands and feet, to baby pose on their back?  Body awareness is also developed when talking about the different body parts and explaining where to put each.  This might be ‘put your hand down next to your foot’ or ‘now turn your shoulder up to the sky’.

my feet where? hands where?

my feet where? hands where?

Yoga promotes respecting the environment, and others.  Yoga is done cooperatively together, not competing against other children.  It is ideally performed outside where children can take notice of the environment (the wind, the trees, the wildlife, the weather), whilst they are doing yoga.

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And of course strength and balance comes with yoga.  Kids are just maintaining flexibility!

So what happens in Kid’s Yoga?

First things first, you’ll need to keep your child’s attention, so it must be FUN.  Kid’s Yoga not only means body poses, but also learning about breathing, body awareness and their surroundings.  Giselle Shardlow has created enticing Kids Yoga Stories to motivate children to practice yoga.*

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

Just one of the many titles from Giselle Shardlow!

ooh they saw a ‘monkey’!

 

Being like a tree... and not thinking about it too much!

Being like a tree… and not thinking about it too much!

They feature adventure-style stories which feature a character who not only cares for the environment but also stops to do a yoga pose or two on each page of the story.  This gives children something visual to go by but also a theme to help them visualise the pose they are attempting.  So when your child goes on a jungle adventure, they might end up doing ‘cat’ pose for a jaguar or if they went on a beach trip, they would end up doing ‘warrior’ pose for ‘surfing’.

Being a butterfly in the jungle

Being a butterfly in the jungle

This is how Kids Yoga sessions compare with an adult’s session.

1. Set up – yes a yoga towel or mat + a drink bottle is still ideal.  A Kids Yoga Story really does hold their attention however you could certainly attempt your own stories once you are familiar with some of the poses.  Or go online for some inspiration too.  We love to do yoga outdoors so we can be with nature and notice the environment with all of our senses, but inside is good if the weather isn’t great!

'Sailing' at the 'beach'... with Master 2 spectator

‘Sailing’ at the ‘beach’… with Master 2 spectator

2. Music – no, you don’t have to stick with any particular type of music.  Whatever gets your children inspired in the theme is a great choice.  But do think outside the box.  The Wiggles Beach Party songs might be a first pick, but could also be distracting.  The Beach Boys is a different alternative.  You could even create a playlist of all of the songs that relate to say ‘the jungle’.  Or you could just put on ‘rainforest’ songs or classical music.  OR you could just go with the sounds around you.

3. Preparation – not so much on body and breathing, but of the story and theme.  Taking the time to discuss what you might expect to see on your adventure gets children into the theme even more so and excited to look at the book.  Don’t forget to remind your children about their surroundings and to use their senses.

4. Structure – this one does go out the window with kids! But the great thing is, sometimes the children will show you how they like their yoga sessions to flow.  And as long as they are still enjoying yoga and receiving any of the benefits listed above, you can let go of following the story exactly or doing the pose so precisely.  Let your children show you how kid’s yoga is done!

Fun wins over precision

Fun wins over precision

5. Taking time – there is no rush with kid’s yoga.  If the kids stop to go and grab a stick for a prop or if they decide they would like to enjoy their rest and watch the clouds for longer at the end, that is what happens.  As long as you are enthusiastic and accepting of their ideas, they will run the session in their own way!

taking the time on his own..

taking the time on his own..

6. Post-yoga activities – the list is endless of what you could carry onto.  Morning tea on the towels noticing the trees or clouds or birds is a great way to stay ‘mindful’ and relaxed.  Other activities could be continuing the yoga theme (such as ‘the beach’) and exercising the right brain with some painting, drawing or playdough modelling.  Make use of the towels in summer and let the kids have fun blowing bubbles in cups with straws until their hearts are content!  Blowing involves breathing and the diaphragm which promotes further relaxation.  Alternatively, you could think about a theme for the next yoga session.

For those interested in one of the Kids Yoga Stories to get them started, here is the website http://www.kidsyogastories.com/.

Otherwise, take a towel outside and see what moves your children might come up with!  You might be surprised as to how much they enjoy it  🙂 Heidi

* This is not a paid presentation but an endorsement of a really great set of books 🙂

Our backyard classroom

Did you see my post on our ‘creation table’?  We take it to different places in the backyard and the boys immediately start to use these different environments whilst they paint…  There’s been decorated passion fruit, painted tomato and basil leaf prints and some green cherry tomatoes used to roll over the paper and make a print.  Sometimes we paint or draw what we see..
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Interacting with the outdoors provides children with a way to access mindfulness.  We talk about the sensory properties of the garden, take note of the clouds and birds we can see or hear and think about what we are focused on.  Just try it and you’ll automatically feel calmer and ready to create!

 

Control, guilt, shame, anger

Speaking from first hand experience, it is much easier to work on yourself staying ‘cool’ when your kids try to steal your calm than trying to pick up the pieces, for your kids and you!

So how do you do this?
– Being ‘mindful’ is one way (link in comments to post about mindfulness).
– Dealing with your own emotions is another. Anger, control, guilt and shame, amongst other emotions, can all stem from not receiving enough love when we grew up, (even when we thought we did) OR particular events. This all affects how we respond to our own children when we get our ‘calm’ taken from us.

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It will always be easier to deal with any type of tantrum or emotional turmoil your child can throw at you, when you are not holding onto negativity from your own past.

How do you let go of this?
In a simple answer, getting to the source of your anger or your controlling issues or whatever it is AND THEN expressing it, will release that energy. You can express emotions through screaming (in an appropriate place!), writing it out, crying or even moving (say yoga poses).


Once you have released your what’s holding you back from the past, you will be amazed at the patience, understanding and calm you can have with your own kids. Then it just involves being mindful, to keep on top of your emotions.

Let me know if you want more information on this! 🙂  Heidi

I wasn’t being mindful….and I paid for it!

So today I experienced one of those days where you just want to yell out ‘Universe, stop playing against me today!’.  Well, when I actually analysed where it all went wrong, I realised it was actually ME that let the present and past get in the way of what should have been just a ‘normal’ day.  Where did my mindfulness go?

Here’s how it went:

Last night, I realised how many activities I had to get done today and with my husband away, it all rested on me.  There was swimming, get the casserole on, bake banana bread (one of our staples) and deal with organising the third neighbour to come over and rescue the calculator Master 2 managed to wedge between our 2 glass sliding doors, so that we couldn’t actually close it.  Not to mention the usual loads of washing, packing lunchboxes, preparing food for the daycare days ahead oh and entertain the boys…

Tuesdays when my husband is away is always a stretch as we have to have both boys (and myself) ready to get in the pool for swimming lessons at 7.30am.  Normally we just sail in with not one minute to spare.  But today, we had Master 2 toilet training, which meant cleaning up two accidents as I was so focussed on getting out of the house.  I also noticed we finished the probiotics which meant adding a trip to the chemist (a dreaded trip with two boys in tow) to the list.  Mistake #1 I focussed so much on what was ahead, I didn’t stay on top of the present.  Mistake #2 I didn’t leave extra time for toilet training.

So we left late for swimming with me feeling guilty I’d had to call ‘time’ and leave without brushing the boys’ teeth.

Swimming lessons are not something I look forward to.  For half the class when I am in the pool for Master 2’s lesson, Master 4 is waiting on the side.  He has gotten up to every type of mischief you can imagine and I count the minutes until I can get out of the pool and put everyone else out of the misery!  Today, I was more tired than usual and was so focussed on getting out of there and home to face the rest of the day’s tasks that I didn’t realise I left our whole bag of wet swimming gear there…until we got home.  Swear words were sitting on my lips as I realised that now took nearly an extra hour out of our day for the round trip with the two boys… Mistake #3 I let myself get swept away with events approaching and instead made mistakes in the present.

Unfortunately, I let the hectic schedule get the better of me and focussed so much on getting my tasks done, that the rest of the place went into chaos.

Here’s a taste of what went on all before midday:

  • Whilst throwing food in the slow cooker, Master 2 threw a plate into the kitchen and smashed a glass jar of coconut milk all over the floor.  I of course cut my hand cleaning up.  All the while, Master 4 insisting on talking to me about anything and everything.
  • The cut on my hand stinging while I cleaned up about three accidents from Master 2, including one on our suede dining chair.  And plenty more loads in the washing machine.  And Master 4 still talking.
  • Chickens all of a sudden deciding to scratch the vege patch apart, which had me running out like a wild lady to shoo them away every 10 minutes.  Lucky Master 4 was there to ‘dob’ on the chickens each time.
  • The boys getting out more toys than they could play with.  This left that many obstacles to walk over I couldn’t help but kick them around as I ran from chickens to accidents to the clothesline and back to the kitchen.  Whilst Master 4 nearly tripped me up trying to talk about I’m-not-sure-what-by-this-stage.
  • The boys playing outside in the pouring rain which of course ended up with Master 2 coming down the wet playground slide with no undies on, flying off the end and scratching his bottom to bits.  And Master 4 insisting on a blow by blow.
  • The boys ending up in mud and bark up to their teeth, requiring full wash downs.  Master 2 who hates the bath on a good day fought me every bit of the way with his sore bottom… and Master 4 was still trying to tell me about exactly which imaginary friends had/hadn’t been playing out in the rain with them.
  • Fielding drop ins from the post man and 2 other people.  With Master 4 at the door to get a few more words out.
  • Organising the neighbour to help with our sliding doors and selling a port-a-cot on Gumtree.

Whew!

So if I rewind and look at how I could’ve been mindful in all of this and NOT ended up with the universe against me, I would have:

  • gone to bed earlier the night before, knowing it would be a big day and I’d need my energy and patience
  • I would have stayed present whilst preparing to get out of the house to swimming and stayed on top of Master 2 getting to the toilet
  • I would have regrouped myself on the way to swimming, taking the time to breathe and realised there were some things on my list I could drop if I had to.
  • I would have faced the swimming class with more energy knowing I would just ‘plod on’ with my tasks when we got home, which would have saved me the second trip back to swimming later.
  • Not being in such a rush, I would have taken the time to set the boys up with better entertainment to begin with, and had more energy to entertain whilst on the run with my tasks, saving me massive clean-ups and tidy ups.

And! The chickens probably still would’ve done their thing (or did they sense the chaos?) and the boys probably still would’ve had their fun out in the mud, but I wouldn’t be writing about a crazy day if I’d just had to cope with this!

Well thanks for anyone who is still listening.  It feels good just to pick this day apart and get it off my chest!  At least I went to bed early last night.  Master 4 up at 4am who’d wet the bed and wouldn’t go back to sleep, then Master 2 tagging him at 5am.  But that’s another story 😉  Heidi

Let your children learn with art

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Okay, so who encourages painting, drawing or other creative outlets within their children? I am going to try and inspire as many of you as possible to see beyond the mess and learn about the benefits of providing some art materials and all…owing your child to express themselves, receive sensory benefits and not to mention cultivating mindfulness.

We don’t have time for fancy projects, we just get in there and do art for art’s sake.
So who is with me….or open to becoming more inspired to bringing art into their homes…?

Is it all balloons, cake and presents for you?

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.

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I would love to hear any of your stories… 🙂 Heidi