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Kirsty writes regularly here

Posts Tagged SAHM

A Year of Possibilities

Happy New Year!

Preparing for a new year can often feel daunting, and will be overlooked by many if it seems to hard, only to find regret around Easter that this time wasn’t taken.

So, to help you prepare, I have put together a list of ten points to consider when entering into anything new, especially a new year of possibilities, to support you getting the most out of this year.

The following list will give you the beginnings of creating a strong foundation to leap off. This reminds me of one of my favourite sayings, “prior preparation prevents piss poor performance!” Take time to mull over each one.

  1. What is your carrot? What is the thing, your why, that will keep you moving forward and keep your focus?
  2. Get real about the pitfalls, and the worst-case scenario that can occur. It is likely you will be struggle free this year, yet there is also a chance that stuff will happen, you will be blindsided, and bowled over. When stuff happens, what is the plan? What is the best way to address it? What is going to work to keep everyone on the same team, solution and goal focused?
  3. Create a dialogue around what you say to other friends, family members, your children, and those you talk to about your goals, career and lifestyle. Be supportive and positive in your language and prepare the standard responses. This will help when people begin to share their well–intended, yet negative opinion of your choices.
  4. How are you going to manage your finances this year? Create a realistic and flexible budget, then stick to it.
  5. Identify the possible stressors within your family, the routines that are required, also how the responsibilities will be shared to meet the demands of how you would like this year to look.
  6. Listen to how the other people in your circle of influence are feeling, the hopes, positive feelings, concerns, worries, and motivations. Open the conversation to what ifs, those things that may never happen—what if someone becomes ill, what if you are losing sight of the carrot, what if stress gets the better of you, what if one of you is just over it? There are lots of what ifs, discussing them lightly with no expectation of them ever happening, is a good thing because this can alert you to possible stress triggers later on and you will be more open and prepared to deal with the issues together.
  7. Start now to find all the resources you can that have information on what you would like to achieve. Start by Googling, and the more you read, learn, feel supported, and develop an understanding of the jargon, the easier you will find it is to keep on track.
  8. Set up a plan of communication and connection to others. What will work for you, your friends and your family? It doesn’t have to be every day, but by having a sense of belonging and a supportive network around you will triple your chances of success. Don’t get too busy to check in with your mates and family.
  9. What is going to be your time management system, or flexible plan, or list process that keeps you on track with all you want to do, need to do, and includes rest and relaxation?  Have a rough idea prepared so you will enjoy more fun and relaxation, keep working towards your ‘why’, and reduce overwhelm and stress.
  10. How will you improve, grow and develop this year? Just working and watching TV isn’t going to hit the right note. Could you be studying, reading, personally or professionally developing, starting a side home business, learning a new type of dance, getting fit, getting involved in a sport or volunteer position, or making new friends? You may be limited by hours in the day or home responsibilities, however embarking on something new that fits in with your life will energise you and support new possibilities.

I hope these tips spark a brighter vision for you this year. I wish you a wonderful 2018, and if you would like any support – either questions, or would like a quick phone chat please email me.
Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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Doing the ‘right thing’ in business

In our faced paced, profit and productivity driven business world I would like you to stop and take a breather. I would like you to consider what is good business etiquette. I would like you to appreciate that in the long run your reputation is everything, and will outlast a quick sale or fleeting acclaim. I would like you to reconnect with the value of integrity in an ever-changing economic landscape.

As I see each experience as a lesson or reminder, I am prompted to share my reflections and thoughts on good business practise with you, as many are forging fortunes in the small to medium business market.

This year I was asked to contribute to another’s new venture as the area of information matched my expertise. After 10 months of the proposed plan rolling out, my content shared as requested, inadequate communication, and then finally an agreement received that did not match with previous discussions; I decided to withdraw my interests and cut my losses. This has happened to many of us, I know.

After over two decades of owning my own businesses and a decade of supporting other business owners to become successful, here are my top 8 tips for doing the right thing in business:

  1. Always answer emails and return phone calls within 24 hours – even if it is to say when you will action.
  2. Always honour your verbal agreements.
  3. Never copy, emulate or plagiarise without written permission (an example of duplication for those that are unsure).
  4. Be transparent and always work towards the common good within your industry.
  5. When action is required, just do it.
  6. Do not denigrate colleagues, acquaintances or anyone you do business with – you never really know who knows who, and what they really think about you.
  7. You won’t always make good business decisions, but you can always be a good and honest person in business.
  8. Lastly, when a deal doesn’t feel right, show your gratitude for the opportunity, and then walk away with your head held high and don’t second guess yourself.

If you can pave the foundations of your business ventures with integrity and honour, in years to come you will be favourably thought of and top of mind for continued opportunities. I have people contact me often who remember my consulting and speaking services from when I first began my business in the late 1990’s, which is always a thrill.

So, moving forward, yes, I am concerned that I could have said no when first approached, and not shared my content. Yet, today, I don’t second guess myself, and I am reminded that my reputation is intact, I have many years of good standing in my community to back me.

I will get back to my practise of good business and supporting others get the results they want. My hope is that by reading this you also head into the new year remembering that building a business and profit line ALWAYS goes hand in hand with building a reputation.

C.S. Lewis said it best – “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Mindfulness, Resilience

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A strong support network is vital

Research suggests a strong peer network in the workplace, and having close and supportive relationships personally and intimately, helps individuals live longer and can increase happiness and health by 80%.

Researchers from Flinders University, found that people with the highest number of close friends outlived those with the least friends by 22 % – on average, living to the age of 79, compared to 65. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data on death rates shows people living in intimate relationships (including those in married and de facto relationships); – both men and women – have lower death rates than single people in almost all age groups. A 2009 study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends’ women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to lead joyful lives.

In a world that seems to be more isolating than ever, and with each emerging online social networking tool introduced, people are growing further estranged – so the above points and statistics are more important than ever to take in and take action on. If you don’t feel inspired by those figures, then include the recent studies that are showing there is a link between the increase in depression, social isolation, stress and hostility, and the lack of supportive relationships people have.

When some of my clients first come to me and report feeling isolated, and have a limited professional and social support network, I find they can also be suffering from stress, emotional issues, and possibly even physical illness. Most of them are finding difficulty creating healthy relationships with others. They admit to having a lack of confidence and self esteem, because they have been let down or rejected in the past, and therefore bounce around the wrong people and relationships – and the cycle continues. This is having a dramatic impact on their health, happiness and success.

A fantastic resource is Blue Zones by writer and explorer Dan Buettner. He spent his life traveling the world in search of answers to longevity and living a fulfilling life. Buettner argues that relationships are really the key to lifelong happiness, saying, “the happiest people socialize about seven hours a day,” and that “you’re three times more likely to be happy if you are married … and each new friend will boost your happiness about 10 percent.” He also explains that good relationships in the workplace are so important; adding that, “the biggest determinant of whether or not you’ll like your job is if you have a best friend there, more so than how much you’re paid.”

Having a hand to hold as you go through life makes the difficulties and challenging times easier to deal with. When things don’t turn out as expected, knowing that your friends, partner, family members and co-workers have your back allows you to go through the storms and come out the other side, feeling okay instead of broken.

I think we are in a social and relationship crisis period. I decided that I want to do my bit to end the isolation, stress and loneliness for as many people as I could, so I spend many of my days helping people to be able to create excellent relationships, friendships and networks that support them to excel personally and professionally.

Look around you now, think about your last week, think about the plans you have for the coming week. Are you surrounding yourself with people who uplift you and inspire you? If not, search for those people, connect in person, make plans for catch ups, have conversations where you are really interested in what others are saying, and get out there and support your community. If you know someone who is experiencing loneliness or doesn’t quite know how to build networks and friendships, help them and reach out to them. Your health and happiness is determined by these connections, so make it a priority.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Over being overwhelmed in January?

As you enter the shops and see the isles filled with exercise books, pens and pencils; pass the shoe stores and notice that black and white shoes have taken over much of the floor space – you realise that back to school is fast approaching.

Apart from the cost of purchasing school supplies, there is a sudden realisation that madness is fast approaching – before, during and after school activities, homework expectations, uniforms to be constantly cleaned and pressed, and making sure there is enough food to prepare and pack!

My eldest is 21 years old and my youngest is 9.  I have had many years of getting it wrong, getting it right, and most years it is a bit of both!  Here I share my top 18 tips to support you being better prepared and be more productive this upcoming year.

  1. Plan and prepare to avoid chaos. This includes weekly schedules, lists and weekly meal and shopping plan. Create a flexible routine that works for your family – from waking to bedtime.
  2. Have a central calendar in the house that all family members have access to with events written on it that are coming up.
  3. At least a couple of times a week make double the evening meal and freeze half for those nights when you run out of the time or enthusiasm to cook.
  4. Make time to bake each week.
  5. Make lunches and get uniforms ready the night before. We all think we will get it done in the morning, but sometimes it is just such a rush and adds so much pressure when trying to get you and your children ready and out the door!
  6. Have bags packed and checked ready to go the night before (including the hat).
  7. I think it’s never too early to give children some responsibility –tasks that you know they can complete for their age and abilities.
  8. Give children checklists – good for parents too!
  9. It is the perfect time to have conversations with your children when driving around with your kids in the car. They can’t get out or walk away!
  10. Take weekly time out for you to de-stress and reward yourself.
  11. Get proper sleep so you have the energy each day needs and avoid getting run down and common illnesses.
  12. Eat well to feel good and keep up. Feed your kids well to keep them healthy and calm.
  13. Remember to breathe – sometimes we just need to stop, take a couple of deep breathes and then proceed.
  14. Keep at least one day free on a weekend to relax and have fun with your family.
  15. Be kind to yourself.
  16. Ask for help when you need it!
  17. 30, 30, 30 and 30 every day! 30 minutes for quiet time for you, 30 minutes listening to your children with enthusiastic interest, 30 minutes for your partner and 30 minutes making sure you have cleared your day and are prepared for tomorrow.
  18. Get up each morning with a grateful affirmative attitude and a desire to meet all challenges with a smile.

As parents, we are constantly creating, re-inventing and re-shaping whilst keeping up with all the demands and challenges of each day. Creating routines and being organised will keep everyone on the same page and help you make sure you go to bed each night feeling a sense of peace and achievement – well most days!

What can you do differently this year to make your school and work weeks run smoothly?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting, Resilience, Separated by Work

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Become a Master Blender


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 🙂


Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting

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Separated by Work – Book Reviews

Separated by Work

I am blown away by the support my book, Separated by Work, is getting and I am so delighted when I get book reviews coming through.

I recently received the following reviews from Pamela Crane from FIFO Love, and Megan Sweetlove from Sweetlove Family Law, and wanted to share with you all.

Megan said after reading the book, “As a former FIFO wife with intimate experience of how challenging the FIFO life can be – particularly for those families who are on uneven-time rosters, I understand how brutal and challenging the FIFO life can be on your personal and family relationships.

Difficulties with communicating within your relationship can be exacerbated by the geographical distance combined with the shift work rosters common to so many FIFO workers. When I read Separated by Work, I found it to be a very practical and logical reference guide for use by families who are separated by work – whether as FIFO workers or in other industries such as transport or defence force personnel.

Kirsty provides very realistic and sensible advice on improving communication and setting and achieving personal and financial goals. Her advice is broken down into easy to read chunks and she provides useful exercises to help you reflect on what you have read and apply it to your own life. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to improve communication in their relationships and help set and achieve goals!”

Then I received an email from Pamela, “I first picked up my copy of Separated By Work at Kirsty’s book launch in March of this year (2016). As a long time FIFO partner and FIFO coach I enjoyed listening to Kirsty speak about her experience as a FIFO wife. She shared her relationship and family struggles and the mistakes she made in the beginning and she really hit home.

I connected absolutely with what she was talking about and I knew that I had to grab a copy of her book.

Kirsty’s book Separated By Work is a great exploration of many of the problems we experience in a FIFO lifestyle. Topics she covers include money and goals, parenting challenges, life after FIFO, the all important “why are we doing this” and much more. I personally connected with some of the issues she discusses and found her tips and hands-on solutions useful.

While she shares her personal journey as a FIFO wife, Kirsty has also included stories from others who have someone who works away so you get a real sense that these issues are not exclusive to just you and your family.

What I loved about Separated By Work is that it is not just a personal journey but offers real solutions on how to move through the issues a FIFO lifestyle can cause. Not only has she included her solutions, Kirsty also has had professionals offering helpful advice and includes “how to” templates to help you and your family survive and thrive through your FIFO lifestyle.

As a professional supporting FIFO couples to keep their loving connection alive in their FIFO journey I highly recommend Separated By Work to anyone who is just starting out in a FIFO lifestyle or is struggling with being separated by work. I also feel this book would be a great tool for non FIFO family members to understand the world of FIFO and how to best support their FIFO family members.

If you are looking for a workbook that is easy to read, self paced, full of practical tips, exercises and resources, then Separated By Work is definitely for you.”

I am so grateful to these ladies, and for all the reviews that are coming in.  They not only say really nice ‘stuff’ about my book – they let you know that my book is real, it is readable, and most importantly it will benefit you and your family.

If you have something to say about my book please let me know either by email or in the comments below.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Separated by Work

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Reducing childhood anxiety through mindfulness and meditation


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 🙂

Posted in: Parenting

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Developing self confidence and an I can do attitude in your child


A lot of parents have concerns about their children’s self confidence and their children’s ability to not give up if something is proving a little difficult.

I often have parents come to me asking questions like:

  • “How can I get my child to stop saying they can’t do it without even trying?”
  • “My child has such a low opinion of themselves, what can I do?”
  • “How can I help my child be more outgoing and happier?”

All these questions lead to the parent’s concern that the child is showing a lack of self-confidence. The parent usually feels this isn’t right and isn’t going to be beneficial for their child in the future.

We have a saying in our house, “O’Callaghans never give up”. It arose from Joseph, our youngest child, going through a stage of saying, “I give up.” He was about four and must have picked it up from day care or his older siblings as I’m sure I never said it—well, fairly certain anyway.

Joseph would be building blocks, carefully placing one on top of the other, and then a large crash would be heard. I would enter the room to see him standing defiantly looking at the pile of blocks, angry face on, and he would be repeating, “I give up, I just give up, I give up.”

The possible enormity of the situation hit me—that if I don’t come up with something soon to change his attitude, it would turn into a life limiting habit. I wanted my son to be mentally and emotionally strong. I wanted my son’s cup to be full, not half-full, not half empty, FULL.

We started saying, over and over again, “Try again because O’Callaghans never give up.” This mantra has grown to include all of us now, and we have developed a very strong culture in our home of never giving up, thanks to those damn blocks.

I believe that self-esteem is the value one puts on them, and confidence is a self-belief that they can do it.
So one is how you feel about you, and the other is that you have practised and know you can do it. Therefore confidence is gained by doing and self-esteem is gained by knowing (or being encouraged) that you are valuable and capable. One cannot go without the other.

Children come into this world full of worth and asking for what they want. As parents it is our role to keep this sense of self worth healthy. Below I have outlined some suggestions of how we, as parents, can direct this in-built determination and persistence in tact, guiding it around appropriate boundaries and safety rules as our children grow. This then will allow your child to believe that they are capable of achieving many things as long as they show determination, practise and commitment – because they are worth it and super clever in their own way.

Modelling is the primary way to teach children good habits. They watch their parents and listen to them constantly, often when the parents are unaware. They watch and listen for verbal and non-verbal reactions to everything everyday. Children feel when situations are happy, sad, threatening, stressful and joyous. The child picks up on all the actions and reactions, even non-actions, to all situations by their parents and learns how it should be done and begins to develop certain belief systems.

Begin now and for the next week observing and listening to how you and your family:

  • Show your confidence,
  • Show your self-worth, and
  • The behaviours and reactions day to day you are showing (teaching) your children.

It is important to remember this is not for you, or anyone else, to negatively judge these behaviours or put another layer of parenting guilt on yourself.

It is for you to become the best parent possible, which is the parent your child needs – which is what most parents ultimately want. You get so many things right by practising what doesn’t work first.

I really resonate with the saying, “making mistakes is proof you are trying.”
You can then move on to supporting an affirmative belief system for your child. This is telling them often:

  • You love them
  • How important they are just the way they are
  • They matter and that their presence in your world and the world of others makes a difference
  • You have caught them out more times being great, and not less than expected, and
  • Each day how grateful you are for them and congratulating your child for big and little milestones reached or achievements.

I like to also make sure that there is a habit of paying it forward to others. My children hear me, and are encouraged to, praise others or speak of them in a positive and supportive way. It really does come back to the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing.”

Next is putting it all into practise with an I Can Do It attitude.

I Cant’s just need proof that this is not true. How do you get this proof? Just do it – with guidance, encouragement, a bit of patience and support, then repeat, and repeat again. Let your child do as much as age appropriately possible:

  • Packing up toys
  • Helping in the kitchen
  • Packing bags
  • Making beds
  • Getting dressed
  • Creating, making, playing, building blocks, dressing dolls, writing
  • Cleaning teeth, brushing hair, tying shoelaces

There are many things they can do things even though it may be quicker for you to do it. However, if you can be patient and encouraging, the smiles, celebrations and hugs are so worth it when they get it. Praise each time they get it right, redirect and start again with enthusiasm each time they make a mistake. Mistakes don’t call for punishment; they are the opportunities for improvement and building a determined attitude – the attitude of winners.

On a final note – It is not being able to do everything right or perfect; it is doing our best and doing what brings joy and laughter to our hearts that insights greatness. Listen to your child with your ears, eyes and heart, just as they do to you. Find what brings light to their eyes and excitement to their voices – then practise, practise and praise, and repeat.

Kirsty 🙂

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


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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Recognising and overcoming children’s stress and anxiety


It is important to acknowledge when your children are not coping and to offer tools to support them. There are tools to help with children’s stress and anxiety.
Approaches to keep your children as stress free as possible are outlined below to support you.

Firstly be aware of and recognise these six signs of stress and anxiety in children:

  • Tears for seemingly minor reasons.
  • Nervous behaviours such as nail biting and hair twirling.
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach aches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Regression to younger behaviours; bed wetting, eating with hands.
  • Withdrawal from school friends or siblings.
  • Any behaviour that your child doesn’t normally do could be a sign of anxiety.

My top eight suggested stress management tips for children are:

  1. Take the pressure and expectations off children if they are feeling uncomfortable. Helping children cope with stress involves knowing their personalities and limits. Listen to and acknowledge how they are feeling and give them time and space with it.
  2. Stick with the routine as much as possible.
  3. Ask your children what makes them feel better. Do they wind down with music, reading, spending time with you, or playing with their friends, brothers, or sisters? Encourage them to do what helps them calm down and relax.
  4. Make sure your children eat nutritious foods, drink lots of water, and get exercise. Reducing children’s physical stress looks similar to minimising your own anxiety.
  5. Have tokens of support for your child. For example something little that Dad or Mum gives the child to have while they are away that is filled with magical happy energy that passes to them when they hold it. It could be anything, a rock, a photo, a small toy. My youngest son slept with an old ID card under his pillow that my husband had given him, for about six months. He said it made him feel close to Daddy. One dad I spoke to set fun challenges for his boys to focus on and achieve while he was working away. He followed up on them during phone and Skype calls.
  6. Have strategies in place to cope with your own stress. The less stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  7. Find ways to be involved in your community. Volunteering and contributing relieves feelings of stress and isolation. It is something that the whole family can be involved in and you will meet some lovely people. Your children will feel a sense of belonging and purpose, and so will you.
  8. Lighten the mood with fun activities; comedy movies, park afternoons, and cosy chats with hot chocolate or ice cream treats, going out, staying in, and laughing.

I have found that one of the most effective ways to reduce stress in the home is to foster a team environment and share how you are feeling in a positive way and how you cope in age-appropriate language. This will encourage everyone to talk about his or her feelings more, no judgment, no direction, just sharing and off loading the emotional burden that can build up.

When children have the opportunity to discuss the realities of life as they see it, they are developing understandings about choices and consequences and can begin to develop habits, resilience and skills that will enable them to make informed decisions about their own resources in the future.

While adults don’t need to share information about all our decisions with children, when we limit what they are allowed to talk about we deny them the opportunity to understand some of the choices we have made that directly impact upon their daily lives.

Everyone is doing the best they can with the choices they have made and children need to know this applies to the adults in their lives as well. How could we provide more opportunities to discuss our life choices with children?

Listening to children, and responding age appropriately, is sometimes hard. It requires time and patience but the insights gained are usually worth the effort. Considering what they have to say means that we can also consider what else they need and have a better chance to reduce the stressors in their lives.

If you were to pick 3 de-stressing techniques from the information above that you could start using now to support your stress-free household, what would they be?

Kirsty 🙂

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