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FIFO Families – Parenting Tips and Tricks

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth.  The energy in the room was high and children were very excited with all the activities that were happening.  A perfect place to share tips and tricks to support parents.

Being Separated by Work, is a minefield of stress triggers for parents and children. Approaches to keep you and your children as stress-free as possible are outlined in video and handout below.

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Become a Master Blender

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I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂

 

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The Physical Stuff – Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

The Physical Stuff - Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

Creating a strong foundation to resist stress will put you in a better position to have a great relationship with yourself and others, to be calmer and more relaxed and increase your ability to deal with the any experience life throws at you.

Good habits for eating, exercising and keeping a comfortable and clutter free environment (home/office) are crucial in supporting and sustaining great results. I research a lot in this area and talk to many people to get their views. I have learned it is never a one size fits all approach. I encourage you to do your own research to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

My top tips are:

Engage in physical exercise daily. As you work up a sweat endorphins are released, which create feelings of happiness. Working out can help manage physical and mental stress increasing concentrations of chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed.

Maintain a healthy diet. You will have fewer mental and physical health-related problems and more energy if you eat well. Lacking proper nutrition can put strain on the body, which becomes mental stress and can contribute to illness.

Two things you can do now to eat to encourage excellent results are:

  • Get off junk food—it has no nutritional value. It may satisfy an energy slump or cover up a lonely moment, but it also decays teeth, lowers self image, and heart health declines. The sugar in junk food is doing a heap of bad things to the brain—impairing memory and learning skills, and contributing to anxiety and depression. Moderation is key.
  • Drink more water. This is the most effective habit anyone can choose to improve his or her inner health, energy, life balance, and skin health.

A nutritionist once explained it like this—“When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled- up sultanas the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased and this has ramifications throughout our entire body—our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

The vision of the shrivelled sultana was a definite motivator for me. A must-have is a refillable environmentally friendly water bottle. Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand.

De-clutter to minimize overwhelm. Studies into this topic report that clutter increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Disorganised people with cluttered lives often feel frustrated, anxious and out of control. They find it difficult to unwind and relax. In my experience de-cluttering has the ability to create energy, mental and physical space, and release negative emotions.

To begin to de-clutter and make life easier for you, consider that clutter can fall into two categories –

  1. Anything that you do not love, need or use.
  2. A disorganisation of things that you love, need, and use.

Pause for a moment to gaze around the area you’re sitting in. Note things that catch your eye that may bring to mind phrases like—

  • I need to pick that up and go through that pile.
  • I’ve never liked that ……
  • X could use that item; it is just taking up space for me.
  • That reminds me of x (person or situation), and
  • That’s a mess!

Statements like these alert you to clutter-spots.

Ask yourself three questions to keep you focused and making good decisions as you de-clutter –

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Is it in full working order?

If the answer is no to any of the above questions, consider getting rid of the object, either by giving it away or throwing it away. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, then pack it away neatly in the back of a cupboard. If you do not give it a second thought for six months then it is time for it to go.

And lastly – Get enough restorative sleep to enhance performance, as poor sleep patterns and stress go hand-in-hand.

Without taking time out to rest, recover and have adequate sleep judgment, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information are weakened. Your health, mentally and physically is impacted. People who have poor sleeping habits are less productive, anxious, less safe when driving and suffer more mood swings – compared to those that have good sleeping habits live longer and have stronger immune systems; and possibly those that live with them live longer and are less stressed too!

What can you change to create a strong foundation to resist stress, feel better, have more energy and enjoy a good nights sleep?

Kirsty 🙂

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Reducing childhood anxiety through mindfulness and meditation

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A child that experiences anxiety can be one of the most difficult things you have to face as a parent. You may worry that your parenting skills are lacking if your child experiences outbursts of anger, reactive behaviour choices, nervousness or panic attacks.

Anxiety has become increasingly common among children as young as four. Statistics show that one in every ten will experience intense anxiety at some point during their childhood. Stress, fear and anxiety is a fact of life for both children and adults – and the way your child’s brain processes the fight or flight response has a great deal to do with how he or she reacts to a perceived threat.

That’s why teaching your child to manage anxiety and stressful situations effectively are some of the most important life skills you can give them. By teaching your child how to breathe, meditate and perform other stress reduction techniques, they are able to deal effectively with the stressors that are a natural part of modern life.

Mindfulness and meditation are particularly effective stress management tools and are widely known to increase calmness and a sense of wellbeing, promote better health and clear cluttered and cloudy thinking – even for very young children. By guiding your child through meditation or bringing your child back into the present moment where they can take back control and calm down, you are giving them a very special and long-lasting gift.

When children are taught regular meditation and mindfulness techniques amazing results have been documented, including –

  • An increase in attention span
  • Having better concentration
  • Are less likely to experience regular illness – have a stronger immune system
  • A marked improvement in studies/academic results
  • More imaginative and creative – which leads to a resourceful and more resilient adult
  • Have a sense of peace, calm and safety
  • Show more problem solving abilities
  • Less disruptive behaviour and angry outbursts

After a period of time, and with your guidance, they will learn how to still their busy minds and be more present and calm. From there, they will develop a more confident outlook and disposition. Over time your child will be able to create a solitary space within themselves that is safe – a space to think, breathe, calm down, and remember or imagine.

I have taught all three of my children to meditate, relax their muscles one by one, and take a couple of deep breaths when needed. From a very early age I encouraged them all to just check in to ‘right now’. To take a long slow deep breathe and feel the breath go in through their nose, travel down their throat, fill their lungs, and expand in their belly like filling a balloon. Then, let it sit there for just a couple of moments, and then exhale, blowing all the air out. As they did this, they could imagine feeling a sense of release and calm. I would get them to do it a few times – slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how they were becoming more relaxed.

My youngest son, who is now nine, has me smiling in many stressful situations. As he notices my posture changing, my body becoming tense, and he can possibly see steam coming out of my ears. He calmly walks over, puts his hand on my arm and says, “Mummy, just take a deep breath in – and hold – and let it go. And again, breathe in, and out.” Can’t get more stress relief than that!

The next thing I made a priority to teach my kids was to S.T.O.P – an acronym for mindfulness. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years, but I found children took to it easily and quickly.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe what is going on around you and within you – just observe it, then

P = Proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you.

Most parents find it a challenge to get their child interested in meditation and seeing the benefits of pausing to be mindful. Our little people are full of energy and easily distracted, and the thought of having to be still and quiet can seem very boring, even impossible to them. You can grow their interest and love of meditating and being mindful when you begin by making it fun. You can make time regularly to guide them through the process until it becomes a habit they can easily follow through with on their own. Most kids will hold still for meditation if it’s something that Mum or Dad takes time out to do especially with them.

Keep your meditation periods short as you begin.

A child that is under five years old, for example, may only stay still for two minutes – and that’s okay. Slowly increase the length of time you spend on sessions as your child begins to take an interest. At first, you may have them start by laying down, but in time they can meditate while sitting cross-legged on the floor, by standing, or even during a walk. The most important thing to do is to make these times fun and relaxed.

You can encourage your child to practice deep breathing techniques by blowing up a balloon or blowing feathers as far as they can, then transition to imagining blowing up a balloon and blowing a feather.

Take a deep breath in ‘filling the belly’ for three seconds, hold, and then exhale for three seconds.

Do this three times to begin and once done for a while they will automatically know that when something is causing them anxiety they can take 3 deep breathes to calm down.

Here’s a simple guided meditation that I have used many times to get you started.

  • Remember to make this fun and relaxing for both you and your child. You can play soft music and lay on the floor or on the bed with pillows if that helps.
  • Begin by telling your child you are going on an adventure, using their imagination. Have them stretch out their arms and legs and allow them to go limp. They can close their eyes (usually the will peak occasionally!) Then count down from ten – as you do tell them that they are getting more comfortable, having a wriggle if they have to, and feeling more relaxed.
  • Then talk them through relaxing each part of their body, taking their awareness to each part as you say it, from the tips of their toes to top of the head. Name each part and ask them to imagine the muscles in that part relaxing and going soft as marshmallows.
  • When your child is relaxed, ask them to visualise a beach on a warm, sunny day. They can imagine standing on that beach in their mind, seeing the waves as they crash against the shore, hearing the wind blow and birds fly overhead.
  • Have them visualise the patterns of the waves as they wash over the shore, over and over again. (You can use any scene – a forest, a castle, a river, the backyard – anywhere you know they will feel happy to be there.)
  • Have them breathe in and breathe out softly, gently and regularly. Allow them to rest, feeling comfortable and safe. You can then use your imagination and trust your own intuition to guide them, with plenty of pauses, to where you want to go. You could walk along the beach feeling the sand in your toes, see a rock pool with lots of sea creatures in it, have people on the beach, sit under a tree, or even have a magic carpet ride! My children loved having a worry tree at the beginning of the meditation appear so they could hang all their worries, one by one, on it. When it was time to finish the meditation I would bring them back past the worry tree and they would find all their worries had disappeared.
  • When they are ready to come back out of the meditative process, ask them to take a deep breath, feel the floor beneath them, notice how calm they are and stretch their arms and legs – and smile.

You can also try a recorded guided meditation with your child. There are many options out there from beautiful music to someone talking and guiding your thoughts and imagination. I have found that children respond very well to background music and their parent’s voice – whether they are present or it is pre-recorded. In my personal experience, children are highly responsive to inner smile meditation, which promotes a healthy immune system. I believe this is because kids naturally and instinctively know the benefits of a big smile and happy thoughts. You only need 10 – 20 minutes ‘time out’ with a child a couple of times a week to see great results.

How could you introduce more meditative and mindful moments into your family’s life? What would be the benefits if everyone could S.T.O.P more often and be calmer?

Kirsty 🙂

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Teaching manners and respect – what to teach and when to start

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Manners are constantly changing from one generation to the next. For example, a handshake in medieval times showed that men were not carrying a sword or dagger in their hands.
Each family, each culture, and each country will have differing expectations of what is appropriate and what is not. This is often a confusing area for parents.

The types of etiquettes and protocols we use today and the reasons we may encourage manners and respect in our children are:

  • Tradition or custom
  • Thoughtfulness or kindness
  • Common sense and safety
  • Trust
  • A show of openness and friendliness.

When demonstrating and encouraging good manners from children most parents usually begin with please, thank you, hello and goodbye. Often taught at an early age, these are the beginning of a child understanding respectful and grateful behaviours.

Manners at home

Home for children is their first learning ground. Each family member, either by example or guidance, can be encouraged to show respect to the rights and feelings of others. Parents model how to listen when other family members have something to say. The effect of this is that children generally will copy this behaviour and then develop more meaningful relationships and good listening skills themselves.

It is important for members of a family to consider each other’s privacy. Everyone in it has a right to some place that is his or her own. Common examples are:

  • Knock on a closed door and wait for permission to enter.
  • Get permission to go to someone’s cupboard, desk, bag or other personal space.
  • Don’t open anyone else’s mail without permission.
  • Gently teach and model to your children what topics get discussed in public and what is discussed within the family unit.

Another important part of good manners is sharing. Most families share the TV set, the telephone, the bathroom and maybe a bedroom or a cupboard or a desk. Children share games, toys and even the attention of parents. Families can also share housework, this means creating habits of age appropriately cleaning up after self and sharing the responsibility for the safety of everyone in the house. Sharing and co-operating within a family unit and taking care of daily chores comes down to personal choice and lifestyle.

Parents need to set the rules or boundaries that they want in place early, clearly explaining them, getting agreement and then following through. This teaches consideration of others and makes it a lot easier in the long term for everyone.

Table manners

Most families have their own table manners that are important to them, which they want to see their children also developing. Here are some general suggestions for your family when at home and eating out:

  • Never reach for any food that is not right in front of you. Ask someone to pass it. If you are passing something, don’t help yourself along the way.
  • If you put something in your mouth that’s too hot, don’t spit it out onto the plate, discreetly transfer it to a napkin or serviette.
  • Don’t talk with your mouth full.
  • Avoid elbows on the table.
  • Don’t be upset if you spill something. Wipe up with your napkin or serviette.
  • When out in a restaurant remember to place napkin in your lap.
  • Don’t put bags or handbags on the table.
  • Don’t brush your hair at the table.
  • A dinner table is a mobile phone or device free zone.
  • Use knives and forks and spoons appropriately.
  • When finished eating put knives and forks neatly on plate.
  • Start eating when everyone is seated and stay seated till everyone has finished eating.
  • Thank the cook and excuse yourself from the table when meal is finished.
  • Help clear the table.

Being a guest

There are certain things you can consider and teach your children when you are visiting or are a guest. They are:

  • Don’t go visiting unless you’re expected, or at least call and check it is okay to pop in.
  • Offer to help with tidy up/clean up before you leave.
  • Be considerate to the families or other household’s routine.
  • Be sure to say thank you for having you.

Manners in public

Unless you are at home or at a friend’s house, you are on public property. These are the times common sense and good manners must prevail. Here are some suggestions for you to consider teaching and modelling to your children:

  • Don’t walk in a way that you block others path. I have taught all my children the keep to the left rule – whether on a path or escalator keep to the left.
  • If you stop to chat in a walkway or isle step to the side so that people can easily get around.
  • Don’t stare at or make fun of others.
  • If you have to walk and speak on a phone be aware of your surroundings and mindful of the people around you.
  • Keep volume of talking to an appropriate level, and never swear.
  • Put your rubbish in a bin.
  • If you bump into someone, apologise.

Children learn how to act by the way the adults in their life treat others and talk about other people and things. If a child sees respect, courtesy and consideration practised by their parents regularly, the child will follow suit. If a child sees contribution, acceptance and empathy, they too will show these qualities.

Actions and feelings dominate the way a young child learns about their world – so generally a parent cannot just demand respect and manners from children and expect good results. What works best is a combination:

  • Parents can, age appropriately, explain and reinforce the reason and meaning behind their requests so that the child can understand why they are being asked to behave in that way.
  • They must model habits of acceptable behaviour and then reinforce outcomes of earned respect or good manners, then children will naturally adopting similar actions without added pressure.
  • Appropriately reward the child as they begin to demonstrate good manners, which will encourage more of the same behaviour.

These are simple things that make a huge difference in your child’s interactions and relationships with others as they grow – and with the ability to show manners and respect their sense of worth and well-being will always be strong.

I will leave you with this quote:

“Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners.” Author Unknown

Do you have any other suggestions to add that work for you?

Kirsty 🙂

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Looking after yourself – Guilt free!

Looking after yourself

“I don’t have enough time to look after myself, and anyway, it is selfish to take time out for me when I have a family to look after – isn’t it?” A statement I hear often from many of my clients and friends. There was a time I even said this.

I realised a long time ago through my own parenting experience, my business and the many parents I come across, there is one major factor that gets overlooked – if you are not okay, how can anything else be okay. If you are feeling run down, overwhelmed or undervalued why not try something new? I am going to share with you how you can get out of the old belief systems of selflessness and move into looking after self – being self -full.

What does self-full mean? A few years ago I watched a You Tube video that featured Iyanla Vanzant, who is a best-selling author. The question was asked, “Is your cup full?” She spoke about putting yourself first and being strong in life. She said that doing this is not selfish it is self-full. Iyanla said, “It’s self- full to be first, to be as good as possible to you. To take care of you, keep you whole and healthy. That doesn’t mean you disregard everything and everyone. But you want to come with your cup full. You know: My cup runneth over. What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine. But I’ve got to keep my cup full.” Hearing this was a light bulb moment for me – it changed the way I parented, gave to others, and especially how I looked after me.

From my years of experience personally and professionally, I have found that if you are not okay, nothing else will be, no matter what skill you adopt or distraction you create. The relationship you have with yourself will determine how you think and feel, how you deal with challenges, as well as the relationship you have with everyone else in your life. Your level of self-esteem and the value you put on yourself will determine your performance and productivity. This is the first area to renew and polish up to fill your cup.

I like to use the metaphor of vehicles, as I believe life is a journey and people generally feel the silent and invisible push to move forward in their lives. Let’s look at the family car. Most people feel a responsibility to keep their car in good condition, up to a safe standard, using the right fuel and properly serviced so that they, and their family, can get from A – B in comfort and safety. The car expenses and upkeep are put in the budget and scheduled, because this is important to have this asset in top condition.

You can view yourself as important as your mode of transport. You are in charge of getting you and your family safely from A – B (mentally, emotionally and physically). To do this you need to be in good condition, getting the right fuel and services. You need to view yourself as an asset to the family unit and most importantly have resources of time and energy to move yourself and family forward.

I will share with you my top nine ways I keep in top condition, and enjoy the ride.

  1. Every morning before I get out of bed, I affirm myself and my family, I see my daily plan play out in my mind the way I would like it to go, make any adjustments, take a deep breath and get out of bed to start my day.
  2. I communicate regularly with my family and friends on what is going on for me, and ask for support when I need it.
  3. I make sure I am properly fuelled! I drink enough water, I eat healthy food and I exercise in a way that is right for me. I find yoga and meditation keeps me mentally, emotionally and physically strong.
  4. I have regular activities and interests that are just for me. I pamper myself quarterly. I benefit so much from acupuncture and massage treatments that help with tension build up and tightness.
  5. I catch up with friends regularly who inspire me, make me laugh, support me and align with my life values.
  6. I make learning a priority. I find keeping my mind active and expanding, either through formal or informal education, keeps me happier, healthier and feeling more resourceful when challenges show up. I love the saying by Charlie Tremendous Jones – “You will be the same person in five years time that you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
  7. I have learnt I don’t have to be Super Mum – I instead get Super Support! Whether it is paid help, help from friends or within the community – I think about the best thing I can do to leverage my time or support myself and my children through certain issues, and then I ask.
  8. I am constantly checking in with myself, and asking, “what is the best use of my time right now.”
  9. I take time each week to celebrate my achievements, discoveries, my trials and my ability to overcome them. I acknowledge that through my mistakes I get closer to getting it right. I appreciate the lessons from life and my family. By doing this I can readjust and move forward easier.

Many years ago, while I was watching TV feeding one of my babies, I heard a celebrity who was being interviewed say that what he remembered and treasured most about his mother, and what he believed contributed to his massive success, wasn’t how much she loved him; it was how much she loved life. This simple statement struck a cord in me at the time. So much so, that since then I have strived to live my life in a way that shows abundance, resourcefulness and moments filled with joy and laughter – and that I am here to get the most out of each and every moment. In doing this, I have seen that it has passed on certain attitudes and beliefs to my children, family and friends.

My sincere wish is that your cup is always full, you can love life, and you can make looking after you a guilt free priority.

Kirsty 🙂

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Is your family on purpose?

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Clients often ask me –

  • How can I get everyone in my family on the same page?
  • How can I get my family to become a great team and stick together during the tough times?
  • What can I be doing differently, or better, to get the results I would like for my family and me in the future – personally and professionally?

Having a family purpose, which everyone agrees on, will answer these questions and create harmony in your home.

Firstly remember that there is not one purpose that fits every family, and as a family grows the purpose will change in part. The common aspect I seem to come across time and time again when I speak to families is that acceptance, understanding and kindness are the firm foundations on which a purpose is built and maintained.

When I began to see the value in developing my family’s purpose a few years ago, I asked my teenage children what they thought the purpose of our family was. I received interesting responses. My then 14-year-old son said, “the purpose of family was a place to live and to be friends.” My daughter, who was 12 said, “to care about each other, be nice to each other, trust, forgive and have fun together.” I then thought about what my then two year old would say – maybe to be safe, food, play, learning and kisses and cuddles?

I began to see that even though my children’s words were different to mine, my purpose of family was similar, “to have a home that is a safe and fun judgment free zone; where we can express ourselves and learn and grow together.”

We all had our own individual ways of expressing what our family purpose was. From these simple purpose statements we were able to set guidelines and boundaries so we could all work towards a common cause – a happy, healthy and safe home and family unit.

If you are experiencing constant conflicts in your home why not consider creating a shared mission, which can reduce conflict and increase connection and encourage close relationships.

Mrs. Rose Kennedy said, “Children should be stimulated by their parents to see, touch, know, understand and appreciate.” She made the family a self-sustaining unit, with members allowed to go their own way while maintaining interest in the lives of the others. Rose immersed herself in the business of raising her family. As her son John, the nation’s first Catholic president, once put it, “she functioned as the glue that…always held the family together.” Her parenting purpose and mission could be seen to be ‘A Mother of Leaders.’

From the hundreds of families I speak to and coach, the ones who thrive as a team are the ones who are on purpose. They know who they are and where they are headed, as individuals and as a unit.

To keep your family moving in the right direction together –

  • Talk – Nurture a home where everyone can feel comfortable to talk about his or her dreams, problems, fears, and ask questions. Eliminate fears of judgment or rebuttal, and make sure everyone feels that they are heard.
  • Recognise trouble spots and weaknesses early – There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, after all it is just proof you are trying. Acknowledge problems and work together towards solutions. Deal with issues with open communication, confidence and not criticism. When someone is off track, come together as a group and take time to realign to the family purpose.
  • Encourage autonomy – Inspire individuality and embrace differences, while working together towards a common goal. A family with purpose encourages independence and is rarely affected by outside pressures and influences.

Companies and organisations know the value of a purpose, mission statement, goals and visions. The most important corporation on the planet, I believe, is a family group. For your family the mission statement will be valuable tool to keep on track, clarify family values and guide daily interactions and decisions – keeping everyone on purpose.

My parenting mission is, and has been for nearly a decade –

“To be present with my family, guiding and managing in a positive and caring way. As I walk with them in their journey I will grow with them – and for my children I attempt to be the parent they need, which may not always be the one I think I should be. I will remember to nurture and reward myself so that I can keep showing up for them.”

Our family mission is –

“Together we are strong, together we can solve any problem and together we are happy. Our home is a safe place and as a group, or individually, we make time to contribute to our community. We respect and accept each other, even when we don’t agree; we laugh often and overcome obstacles as a team. We always remember to make sure that our own health is a priority so that we can keep showing up in our lives, and the lives of others.”

Enjoy your family that is on purpose – It is a mission possible!

Kirsty 🙂 

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Emotional first aid will decrease the likelihood of early death.

I am a huge fan of TED clips. They offer information, inspiration and the most awesome insights. One lately that grabbed me, and I knew immediately I wanted to share with you all, and I will be referencing more for my up coming book to be released this year; talks about emotional hygiene and how important this is.

Emotional-First-Aid-Paperback-199x300Guy Winch shares a very valid point when he says “I recently was at a friend’s house, and their five-year-old was getting ready for bed. He was standing on a stool by the sink brushing his teeth, when he slipped, and scratched his leg on the stool when he fell. He cried for a minute, but then he got back up, got back on the stool, and reached out for a box of Band-Aids to put one on his cut. Now, this kid could barely tie his shoelaces, but he knew you have to cover a cut, so it doesn’t become infected, and you have to care for your teeth by brushing twice a day. We all know how to maintain our physical health and how to practice dental hygiene, right? We’ve known it since we were five years old. But what do we know about maintaining our psychological health? Well, nothing. What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene? Nothing. How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds. Why is it that our physical health is so much more important to us than our psychological health?”

I strongly recommend you watch the whole TED Video, as it shares many insightful reasons we all need to “…imagine what the world would be like if everyone was psychologically healthier? If there were less loneliness and less depression? If people knew how to overcome failure? If they felt better about themselves and more empowered? If they were happier and more fulfilled? …..And if you just become informed and change a few simple habits, well, that’s the world we can all live in.”

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The ADHD Handbook

ADHD_final front cover 600pixBook Review – The ADHD Handbook by Stuart Passmore

I was recently asked to review this book by Exisle Publishing. I must admit from the first page I ‘ate’ it up.

Living with a child who is ‘special’, ‘difficult’, impulsive, hyperactive, anxious, and/or just plain ‘naughty’; can leave many parents feeling judged, distressed, exhausted and overwhelmed. I know, as I have one of these children.

This handbook presents an up to date understanding of current findings, past findings, supporting research and a holistic genuine view you can’t go past. It allows the parent/caregiver/teacher an opportunity to recognise that it is no-ones fault yet there are specific groups of strategies that can alleviate the pain you and the child are experiencing. Stuart has a way of explaining quite complex data and reasoning in a way we can all comprehend no matter what level of understanding you have on medications, alternative therapies or brain research. Whilst reading I felt his compassion for this topic, for the parents, as well as the sufferers of this disorder.

The main points that jumped out to me and I found well described were:-

  • How complex ADHD is
  • Misdiagnosis and why
  • ADHD in adulthood
  • ADHD is not a cause of parenting it is a neurological disorder
  • The neuro-anatomy of ADHD
  • Co-existing conditions with ADHD
  • The positive aspects of a person who has ADHD and how to build on those
  • Parenting/Caregiver support and suggested management techniques

I believe that this book will hearten and inform those caring for or with ADHD, it will also support you before and after you seek professional help. It enlightens you to questions to ask, and especially allows you to make informed choices and confidence to ask ‘those questions’ from your or your child’s health team and specialists.

My advise would be to read as a current guide to the most up to date data, and you will feel encouraged to amalgamate this information with your parenting/caregiver instincts and be more empowered in your chosen next steps. Book is $34.99

About the author: Stuart Passmore is a psychologist in private practice. He has developed an evidenced-based Parent Management Training program for parents of children with behavioural disorders ranging from ADHD to Oppositional Defiance Disorder to Conduct Disorder and children with explosive and non-compliant behaviours. Stuart also conducts professional development training workshops on Parent Management Training for behavioural and anxiety disorders.

Kirsty O’Callaghan 🙂

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Parenting a Difficult Child

Getting work books ready for upcoming workshop ‘Staying Sane Whilst Parenting a Strong Willed Child’, I decided to write a verse in front of workbook especially for these amazing parents.  I tend to keep my poetic abilities hidden or not used often, however once this was written felt I wanted to share it.  I hope it resonates with you and you enjoy 🙂

Parenting a Difficult Child

They can make your heart double; they can make your heart break.
They can allow you to expand, until the stretch makes you shake.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

They spend their days exploring and questioning,
They see a boundary; it sets a challenge in their mind.
You spend your days questioning and self-analysing,
Reaching for every parenting resource written and spoken you can find.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

The child does not see that anything damaging is being done,
Whether it is something broken or someone.
All they want is to test their will, to win and have fun,
All you feel is judged and a failure and wishing for sleep that may never come.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

You hear, it will get better or we could do this or that,
You hear that your friends having play dates that you were not at.
You are exhausted and have begun to yell,
All in all, some days are just hell.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

You think the world and your child hates you; they don’t.
You start to feel like there is no hope.
There are glimmers of joy, and sometimes pride,
There are also times when humiliation just makes you want to hide.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

So is there hope? So is there and answer to why?
I think there is, and you know it underneath the silent tears your cry.
A difficult child is just one that is brave,
I think these children are so much more than how they behave.

They do not mean to hurt, to isolate or demean,
They are just being who they were meant to be.
So the world isn’t quite ready for their demands of change,
The world is learning to adapt, but only through their rage.
This leaves you wondering why this child picked you,
They picked you because there is a warrior spirit inside you too.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

Some days will be good, some will not.
Some day’s people will support you and others they’re gone.
None of this will matter anymore to you now.
You now know that this child needs you to be 100 per cent,
They need you to be focused and present.
This is a parent of a difficult child.

It is time to bend their will, no longer attempting to break their spirit.
It is time to create a world that will be happy and comfortable to have them in it.
You know you can and so do they.
They trust your love for them so much, what else is there to say.
That is the parent of a difficult child.

So take up the challenge, become battle ready,
This is a fight you can only do slow and steady.
They believe in you and so do I, there will be no more try.
There is only I was born to do this, I can, and I will,
This is my most important mission, and I am ready for the thrill.

So there you have it,
The time has come,
To wear your banner proudly,
I am a wonderful Dad or Mum,
I AM THE PARENT OF A DIFFICULT CHILD
– Kirsty O’Callaghan

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