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discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Finding our rhythm

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.

I do not like the word CHORE as it feels something negative. Upon searching for inspiration online I came across: Our Home becomes whole when we work together and hence decided to use it for us.

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!

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Building up a new Rhythm at home

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.

family life, parenting, raw reality

Schooling children during this challenging time

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!

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Observing the child

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?

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Protecting our children during Corona Virus

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.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

Biting and Breastfeeding

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.

Teething:

  • 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

Cold/Ear Infection:

  • 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

Other reasons:

  • 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.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

Parenting your 5 year old

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
  • Restless
  • 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?