I am not joking, I am truly grateful to this virus. With the advent of social distancing, school closures and working from home, I have found my blessings overfilling in many ways…
I get my children home for 6 months instead of the 3 Summer months only
My husband is all the time around, being able to spend more time with him to, despite him working from home full time
I am getting quite a few Aha! moments in my parenting journey right now which will in turn help you my clients (double win!)
I am finding time to continue a course to better myself and my services
We are stress free and while I know that the stressors can’t be changed when things go back to ‘normality’ I can be more compassionate to myself and my family about them
I am going through a journey of deep growth which I know wouldn’t have happened if this didn’t come up
I appreciate the time I had for my self-care much more
I can appreciate our family and friends much more now we can’t meet up
I see how blessed we are to have a piece of land where we can run and play
I can appreciate technology more
So yeah, I know that in general it is not a nice time BUT keeping my perspective on the positiveness, I can’t show enough gratefulness to COVID-19 for giving me these insights and joys and teachable moments.
How is it going parents? Can you find some gratefulness in this craziness?
Many of us when we think of consequences we think of punishments. Which it should not be the case as both are quite different.
Many might think that a consequence we are giving is not a punishment but simply what a child deserves. Yet there is a fine line between an actual consequence and a punishment.
Let us understand it better through this scenario: your child, an 8 year old broke a vase at home. Your instant reaction is anger and upset and we honestly just wish them to pay for causing this upset and tell them that for that day they cannot watch screen time because they broke the vase. THAT IS NOT A CONSEQUENCE…it is a punishment which ultimately means, you hurt me and I am going to hurt you back as much as possible. There is no learning outcome except that if one hurts me than I should hurt them back (especially if they are younger than me).
Now let us look at the same scenario but instead of no screen time, we wait till we are calm enough and then let them know how upset we are that they broke the vase. As a consequence, they need to pay for the vase to be replaced (or if possible they are to help fix it). You discuss together how this is going to be achieved (by saving pocket money or not giving pocket money for x amount of weeks or by doing small extra works around the house or to neighbours etc). This would be a logical consequence which is relate-able to what happened, respectful to the child, reasonable and helpful. the learning outcomes would be to be respectful, responsible, kind and helpful.
There are also what we call natural consequences. Let us look at this new scenario: Your teen would not wake up despite calling them several times and they miss the bus to school. Your reaction is to get angry and upset but despite the threats and anger you take them to school yourself so as not for them to be late. What are children learning here? They are learning that you do not mean your threats, that you will ALWAYS rescue them and so need not take responsibility for their actions.
Now we can instead let nature take its course. When they miss their bus, you let them know (not in angry tones) that they have to figure out how to get to school and speak with the head themselves to justify their lateness. You also let them know that once home you will hold a talk between you on how this issue is to be resolved (this could involve them using an alarm clock to wake alone, sleeping earlier to wake on time, insisting you will not rescue them when this happens again). Through this approach, we are teaching responsibility, self reliance, kindness and boundaries.
Therefore, before issuing your verdict on something that happens at home stop a moment and think if what you are doing is just inflicting damage or if we are teaching through natural or logical consequences.
As it has been confirmed that schools will not re open this scholastic year, we are looking at the long term of being home with children, whilst working and keeping house.
It is not easy!
So this week I started by re doing our chore chart…I had slacked with my children’s input on their contribution to our home. Something I had already acknowledged but had decided to postpone till Summer starts. Yet, of course, things have now changed so we are diving in straight away into the new way of keeping house together.
The chores are split into 5 groups and these are attached with velcro so every week they change and every one gets to do every thing that needs to be done in our house. Mine will rarely change although some of the things like washing clothes will be assigned here and there!
Even young children aged 3 can share in the house work. Of course they need supervision and help and that’s ok, we need to give them training for them to eventually start doing them alone.
Next, I have looked at our rhythm. After much thought I came up with what I feel is a reasonable one and that will work for the whole family. My husband is working from home full time, so this rhythm is mostly for me and the children (although he will partake of it in the evenings and weekends or when I am working during school hours).
The chores listed earlier (unless they are part of the weekly house cleaning) can be done at any time of the day and not at a specified time.
After much pondering I decided to give them an hour of screen time daily and a staggering 3 hours on Sunday (although after today’s try out it will be split in 2 and not 3 hours at a go! ). I came to this decision in a simple way really. I thought of how when I was young I had no screen restrictions but it was balanced with a lot of time outside. So, with 2 hrs of movement a day it is counter balanced beautifully and the children are also happy as it meets their needs/wish of screen time.
The times are just an indication and not set in stone. What interests me is that everyone knows what will happen next. This gives them a sense of security and trust and they can relax further during this time where there is a lot of anxiety around which they can feel.
Tomorrow I will go a bit into more detail about rhythm or you can simply jump in and do the free rhythm e-course available on your own!
It has been a week since the world as we know it stopped working.
In this week, the majority of us discovered a lot of new things…..things within our families that might not having been working well but suddenly the solution appeared or things which we thought were working well but upon reflection we are seeing we are better off without them.
In preparation for when our world will start functioning again in a manner we are more familiar with, I invite you to build a new rhythm within your homes. I wrote to you about observing your child earlier this week. This is an ongoing process of course, but with your discoveries so far and what you have also seen in this week as working or not, you can start quietly and slowly build a rhythm that works better and flows better for your family.
When we talk about rhythm, it is not me talking about a routine per se. Rhythm is more flowing not time restricted. It is seeing that everyone’s needs are being met, without putting a strain on the family. It is about bringing together the needs of the family and making a time table that gives comfort and nurturance to the children, yet simplicity and ease of mind to the parents.
It is about taking stock of all our current activities, all our needs, all our have tos, all our commitments and seeing that they can work together well and if not seeing what from them needs to be struck off our rhythm for the greater good of our sanity, our family and our lives.
I invite you to join my FREE rhythm e-course to help you out on this and as always drop me a line if you need further clarifications or help.
As schools close indefinitely, and most adults are home with their children, many are worried about schooling their children.
The majority of parents on our tiny island, have not experienced homeschooling. Just as many would never have been interested in doing it. However, whether interested or not, many are feeling bewildered and confused on what to do and where to start.
As an advocate for homeschooling, and one who loves doing it with her children, here is my take on homeschooling in a way that brings growth and peace to the whole family…
Schedule a specific time for school. We are doing it in the afternoon, because that is what is working for our family right now. For children 3-6 years anything from 10-45 mins is a good amount time. For children 7-9 years 1-2 hrs and the older ones can get 2+ hrs. However, since I am seeing that middle schools are sending in work regularly and it is mostly primary that seem lost I will focus mostly on this age group.
If you have more than one child at home, start with the youngest. The older child, if old enough can start working alone on something e.g. my older ones do maths while I school the youngest – that gives them approx 45 mins daily of math. Once done with your young child, they can play quietly alone with play doh, sensory bins or have something that comes out specifically for this moment. In my case my oldest will entertain my youngest while I school my middle child and later they swap.
Focus on the 3 main subjects of Maths, English and Maltese. For those with 7-9 year olds, one can practice language arts in a very easy way which encompasses vocabulary, spelling, writing practice and grammar all at once. Read a book, discuss it together and on the following day ask them to write a small paragraph about the book. It can be taken in turns to have a day writing in Maltese and another in English or take a whole week to do English only and the following swap to Maltese. This can also be done if needed with the older children as a way to keep the bare minimum going. You can also give them writing prompts. There are tons of website which offer them! When it comes to math, you can either check out again the many websites which give free worksheets and there is also Khan Academy which is free and you can assign work to your child not just in maths but also other subjects if you so wish. For those young ones – 3 to 6 – First do some movement like head should knees and toes etc, read a story on a daily basis, I do the same story for a whole week. Than every day we do something different: draw, paint, model with play doh, craft and baking. don’t force them, they are still very young. Let them mirror you, so work along side them!
Read tons of books daily. If you just feel too overwhelmed, just reading books is enough to get through this time
Remember that school is not just academics – they are actually a very small portion of schooling ! Start teaching them to cook, keep house etc by helping you doing all these things. Give them responsibilities!
Draw, craft, do handwork, play music and games!! the arts are not given much importance but they help in many areas of life. Like increasing patience, resilience, pride in own work, team work, critical thinking, care for things….
If you are still feeling overwhelmed, drop me a line I am happy to help out!
Observing children is an important part of parenting. Without it, any change in character- especially added misbehaviour will go ‘unnoticed’, leading us to think that the child is becoming defiant or more disobedient and so on. Not finding what the real problem might be!
We are currently in a position to practice observing our children. To really get to know them, just as much as we did when they were newly born. It does take practice but once you get into the groove, you will find yourself doing it all the time without even trying!
For example, in 5 days at home, these are some thing I observed in my children.
The children are all sleeping better and waking refreshed! Unfortunately with our normal routine (which includes simply school and catechism!), they get exhausted, don’t manage to sleep well and wake up still tired!
My youngest problematic behaviour practically vanished overnight. It reminded me how still very young he is and although he showed school readiness, it is still super stressful for him to keep himself together, follow the rules and sit for any amount of time. This was further fueled by his older siblings being too tired to even attempt to play so his frustration was through the roof.
They are more cooperative. School at home has been a breeze so far; with them actually being enthusiastic! Apart for schoo,l they all give a hand more willingly to keep the peace and the place clean.
When observing a child, we need to look at their entirety and not just at their behaviour. We should go meditatively inward and remember how they where as babies. Did they cry a lot? Did they need special attention? Where they very relaxed? Did they develop according to standards or where they quicker/slower? Knowing the base line will help us to then understand further what we are seeing. If you then look at your child currently, how different/ the same are they from when they were babies?
If the child is having challenging behaviour, ask: Why is this child behaving in this way? We normally look first at outside stimuli. Maybe they just started school or you just went back to work or someone they loved died. When we see nothing wrong there we look further. Sometimes we might need the help of other professionals like counsellors or doctors.
Observing our children, keeps us in line with their needs- even when we are not sure what they are, we are still aware of something that is missing! So take the chance just given and observe: do you see anything different since you’ve been home all the time?
As the COVID-19 hit our shores and most of the world, the spiralling panic has increased drastically and all you hear whether online or face to face is talk about the current number of people infected, how it is spreading and so on.
In the midst of all this talk, we are forgetting our children are there, listening to our fears and worries – me included!
I forgot to protect my children from the adult world and the stress came to the forefront pretty quickly in the form of meltdowns of varying degrees. Protecting children from the adult world does not means keeping them uniformed about what is happening. It merely means, giving them updates without alarming them. It means not talking continuously and without reserve in front of the children. It means keeping your worries and alarm outside of their ears.
Children need to feel secure in order to grow. Once their sense of security is torn apart, they get stressed and misbehaviour skyrockets. With schools and childcare centres closed, we are given the opportunity to strengthen our attachment with our children, lessen the burden this virus has caused to them through all the talk they were subjected to from us and educational professionals at school and bring them back into a centred calm and security.
Living in conscious parenting means being aware that all our actions and talk effect the rest of the world and most notably our children. So in a grand effort to use these 10 days to our best advantage:
1. let us minimise the amount of time online, looking at the latest articles on the corona virus and simply do so once a day AFTER the children go to sleep.
2. let us play games together, do chores together and watch movies together as ways to strengthen our attachment and share our lives (as so it should be).
3. let us USE these day to teach our children resilience and care for others in the face of adversity instead of fear and closing within ourselves out of said fear.
4. let us learn and teach our children that it is important and necessary to slow down; that it is important and necessary to our dear Earth to do so as well, since staying at home and reducing consumption help our climate.
Possibly, this is something most mothers are afraid of when they start breastfeeding. It is something that is on their mind from the very beginning – a question I get asked about often in home visits and workshops.
Biting while breastfeeding comes up not because children bite while nursing. In fact, a baby can’t bite at all while nursing because of the tongue position! Biting happens either because of teething, ear infection or cold (blocked noses and nursing are not compatible) and lastly it can also happen out of other reasons.
Do not show an external reaction to the bite, some children find it funny and start biting just to see you react!
Say a firm “No biting, it hurts mama”
Unlatch baby straight away for a few seconds or minutes (it is up to you to gauge how long it should be)
Alternatively, push baby into your breast for a few seconds cutting off the air supply so they let go.
Check baby position; over time, children may become a bit sloppy in their latch making you hurt
Be attentive! be aware of your nursing child so as soon as you see baby is becoming restless you switch or unlatch baby
Talk to your child to distract them and keep them focused on you while nursing
Compress your breast while nursing so milk is flowing quicker and all the time and not giving them the opportunity to bite
Always review the position first, while it might be hurting, it can stop being good due to active nursing babies
Keep baby upright, especially with a blocked nose to help open the airways
If baby is tugging at their ear go to your health care professional for it is possibly an ear infection. Once medication kicks in and baby doesn’t hurt while nursing the biting will stop
Baby is distracted. If your baby is distracted forget nursing them till they show interest. If they are moving about, not settling etc it is better to wait or take them somewhere less distracting to feed.
Wanting attention. Sometimes a baby wants attention while they are feeding. Maybe we are reading, talking to some one etc. If that happens remove baby calmly from the breast and firmly say we do not bite. Give your child some attention before going back to what you were doing.
Milk isn’t coming quick enough. If your baby is impatient and want milk quickly, compress the breast and or pump a bit to get the let down going. This usually happens when baby is tired or very hungry! Again be aware of your child and if baby is getting nervous unlatch and latch on the other breast.
Biting because they are finished feeding. Yes some babies instead of simply unlatching will bite when ready from a feed. Awareness of your child to notice when they start playing and stop feeding to unlatch them straightaway is important. Of course if it happens again calmly and firmly let them know that biting is not an option.
Of course, biting is normally always a phase which goes by like all other phases. However, if need be feel free to speak to me so I can help you out further as needed.
The five year old is on a threshold. They can still be reveling in toddler-hood or forging through into childhood. I think many parents can find this age very stressful for them – I definitely am right now!
Things to keep in mind about our five year olds according to the Gesell Institute:
Five is the height of nightmares. They might not be able to wake well or go back to bed well. It is a fact with my own son, who started waking daily and coming in our bed again telling us he is having bad dreams. Sometimes they might scream out and not be able to calm down as they won’t wake well.
May revert to toilet accidents
VERY ready to go against what is asked or expected of them
Lots of tensional outlets- you know those things that tick our boxes like picking noses, head banging, masturbation, fidgety
Doesn’t quite want new or different
Wants to do everything just right
Might prefer to stay home with mama than play with children
Living with a five year old, we need to bring two things into their lives: Rhythm and rules.
Without a rhythm we will be arguing most of the day with our 5 year old. This is something which I got reminded myself recently as B’s behaviour was deteriorating and becoming unbearable. I saw we lost a bit our rhythm in recent months when it comes to B’s needs and that together with other things have led to some difficult moment. Currently working to bring back a rhythm that carries our day, so that he again knows what will happen next, making him feel more secure and more happy to comply with family rules.
On the other hand, rules need to be simple. Trying to change my own perception of how I look at them from controlling behaviour into giving them skills to learn and master. This is not easy but looking at phrasing in a simple, positive manner I know will help in my current cause. So give this a go parents!
Ultimately, we need to keep working on ourselves and our own habits. Review negative habits that you have not yet mastered: do you nag, command, dominate, yell, shame or punish your child instead of finding positive alternatives? Can you work on finding those positive alternatives? What about keeping calm and help your child physically follow through in a peaceful way with whatever you asked them to do?
Spring has started early here this year. At the end of February, I could deeply feel within me the awakening of nature on our little island. The sudden perfume of flowers all around, the bees and wasps buzzing abundantly and the butterflies flitting about.
And our home is also taking up the spring experience within it – although slower! Our nature table is not yet Spring, because we are observing Lent and so it will burst full of life, vibrancy and flowers in April with Eater Sunday.
Yet our Spring books have come and are gracing our home. They are geared mainly for the 4-7 year old bracket, however, my older children still enjoy listening to them. Each book is read daily for a week before it is replaced by another. Every week we also hold crafts, reflecting what was read in the book as much as possible.
This enables the younger child to make sense of the changing seasons, the passage of time and the beauty of Earth through books, nature tables and activities. It also keeps the older child aware of this and helps them slow down a fraction, in a world that is always hurried.
Here is our list of books for Spring:
Good bye Winter, Hello Spring by Kenard Pak: It is a very simple story about a boy saying hi to all that represents winter in nature and them saying hi again and what is happening and ending with the arrival of spring. A very simple and easy way to explain children about the seasons.
Spring by Gerda Muller: This board book, like the rest of the set has only pictures depicting Spring. This is a lovely book where you can re invent the story in any way you like and in any language you prefer.
Spring Story by Jill Barklem: This is also one book of a series. The Spring story falls perfectly well as it is about one of the mice boys having his birthday and how they surprised him with a picnic. Since B’s birthday is in March, I like keeping this book for his birthday week.
The very hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle: Probably no need to introduce this book, but it is a great one to add for spring as it goes through the stages from caterpillar to butterfly. Last year we were fortunate enough to grow some caterpillars at home and seen them transform. It was a lovely experience for my children seeing them becoming butterflies.
The very busy spider by Eric Carle: I like to use this book in spring, because every one in nature is busy building nests, foraging for food etc and so it feels this book, giving us the story of spider building a web brings forth the busyness found around.
Up in the garden and down in the dirt by Kate Messner: This is an amazing book! Love the pictures, love the way it is written. It starts with a child ready to start planting their garden and her nanna explaining what is happening beneath the soil and on top going through the cycle of all seasons from spring to winter.
New Beginnings: celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeffer: Now this is a new book for us. I am really happy we bought it. It starts about how spring starts and how Spring Equinox is a day of equal day/night and goes through the ages of how this festival has been celebrated by different people. There is a lot of teaching in it about tolerance, difference and sameness.
Nature’s tiny miracle Bee by Britta Teckentrup: A ‘mistake’ book! I got it because I liked the outside picture but when I opened it and read it, the story is amazing. It shows children the cycle of life how a bee pollinates the flowers and how everything lives because of her. The story is lovely written in rhyme and the pictures are amazing.
What are you doing to welcome Spring? How do you bring it to your children?