family life, Festivals, parenting, seasons

Some Autumn Ideas

While the temperature is still on the high numbers over here, the subtle changes on our little island of the changing season can definitely be felt.

You can read more about how we welcome Autumn in these posts here and here.

Next week Malta celebrates Independence and of course the Autumn Equinox. Then there is Michaelmas and well, Autumn is FULL of festivals that brings joy to our hearts.

Independence here in intertwined too heavily with politics so the reality is that Independence Day is not quite celebrated much (unless you hail from certain political factions). It was felt though, that to instill pride in our country we should celebrate this milestone. So we do just that at home! We decorate the house with many a flag, we eat traditional food like timpana and lampuki (local dolphin fish). For breakfast I usually prepare red and white foods to reflect our flag colours and I tell them the story of history that got us independence.

Autumn Equinox is celebrated by watching the sun rising. We also sing, tell stories and do crafts. Lastly we renew our pledge to help our Mother Earth.

These two festivities are like the start up of many others that bring hope and courage in the waning light that is brought by Winter.

As a parent who teaches and parents in the Waldorf way, the festivals are important because they teach valuable lessons to our children. They not only remind us to work with the seasons, be aware of them and honour the changing Earth. It also reminds us to take stock of what we have done thus far, be courageous to change the things which are not helping us or not in alignment with our hopes and wishes and ultimately helps the soul grow!

raw reality

6 months of terror

It’ s been nearly 6 months since the world went upside down

Life became difficult in many different ways.

Our high ambitions, our unmet needs, our worldly possessions, our greed

Got highlighted without end for these past 6 months

Making us cowards of ourselves and what we would like to trust.

We have judged each other relentlessly just to not feel the pain

We have hurt each other just to forget the suffering in our body and mind.

It is a year full of growth for those who want to really care

Full of meeting our past, our present and our future at the same time.

Feeling fully into everything, needing air, getting none, like a drowning cat.

We look forward to a breather, which seems truly out of sight.

Knowing really that acceptance is the way forward in this light.

Accept the change that Earth timely provided us, accepting fear of the unknown

Accept life is ever changing and we should also change – evolve, grow.

Letting these unsettling times help us greet a possible new world.

It is hard and it mostly feels lonely on this journey without end.

Going in cycles and in spirals, on and on without seemingly an end.

But like a Phoenix we will rise and feel stronger than before

All the hard stuff that we deal with, makes us shine with love forever more.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

High Lipase in Breast Milk

There is a lot of misconception about high lipase in breast milk.

It all starts with a parent expressing milk and when they go to give it to their baby, after it was frozen, either they offer it to the baby and they refuse it or they might smell it before giving it and smell it metallic/soapy.

This milk has high Lipase – an enzyme that helps break down the fats in milk.

However, a lot of health professionals who are not aware of this, will scare mothers into thinking their stored milk is not good and should not go near the baby!

While yes a lot of babies will refuse to take the milk, it is not necessarily so (and the milk is not spoilt!!) But, whether your child refuses the milk because of its particular taste/smell or not, there is a solution!

Scalding the milk or flash heating it will stop the lipase from breaking the fats, thus keeping the milk ‘normal’. 

The 2019 edition of Best Practice for Expressing, Storing and Handling of Human Milk by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America addresses the smell and taste of stored milk. It is “due to the breakdown of fats during storage and is safe to feed babies.” And “mothers should be informed of the destruction of properties of their milk if they decide to scald”

Flash heating means that you put the milk on the stove till bubbles form at the edge (or milk reached 82 degrees Celsius) and than quickly cool the milk down.  The ‘problem’ with scalding the milk is that of course it destroys some of the important properties found in breast milk. That is anti bacterial and some of the nutrients but as long as baby is not getting heat treated milk only, than that is not a problem at all.

So, if your milk smells or tastes strange, first double check basic hygiene in expressing and storing milk and if that is not the issue than high lipase probably is. Scalding the milk, will resolve the problem of baby refusing stored breast milk.

family life, parenting, raw reality

Done with Parenting

There are days where I am done with parenting.

I do not want to be the adult any more that cares for these children.

So on Saturday I walked out of the house….because I didn’t want to parent….

I was angry and fed up and I left husband and children at home with no idea what I had in mind. All I knew was that I wanted space. I started walking angrily at first, but than meditatively. Thinking what was all this about?

I spent an hour alone before going back home and hubby took up this into his own hands and gave me the morning off while he headed off with the kiddos to the beach.

That morning gave me so much insight on what I need to work on next in my life!

There will be other days for sure where I am done and want this to be over.

Sometimes, I get exhausted holding the space for 3 children.

Sometimes, I actually want to focus on my other work… paid work….sometimes I forget that my children are my teachers to my paid work and really wish them far away. Other times, I feel their worth as more than gold and keep them tight drinking in all the knowledge that I am getting from them, knowing that with that knowledge I will help one of you parents.

Sometimes parenting feels easy- yes you do get those odd days, where everything flows perfectly and effortlessly and you have this I got it feeling, I am on top of things. It is a nice feeling isn’t it?

Most times, parenting feels more like struggling with mud..trying to move and getting more stuck in the situation.

It is OK. You are not alone. We all get that.

family life, parenting, raw reality

I am grateful for Corona virus

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?

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Differentiating between consequence and punishment

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.

What more help with this? Give me a call to schedule your online one hour video call.

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?