How to find your inner calm & calm down your kids?

Being With Strong Emotion Pema Chodron's strategies

What do you do to stay calm or calm down?   I’d love to know what works for you…..

I had to use all the mindfulness skills available to me earlier this week to keep calm….and then when I erupted (oops!) – to recover quickly!  No-one can push our buttons like our kids can – and it is often when we are tired, stressed – or need to get to work on time….that we are pushed to our limits!   As Jane Nelson says in Positive Discipline we are aiming for a general direction NOT perfection…so no point beating ourselves up when we revert to old ways….and instead we need to keep practicing and keep noticing the times when we remember our new strategies…when we find a way to stay calm or calm down!

For me what worked this week was:

  • breathing,
  • focusing on my feet,
  • saying to myself this too will pass,
  • looking outside to the view…
  • then doing some LOUD breathing out…
  • then when I did erupt (unfortunately!) keeping it to ‘I’ statements –  limiting the  blame and shame….
  • and afterwards giving both kids huge hugs,
  • apologising for my reaction,
  • talking about what we can do the next morning to prevent the same scenario from happening again….
  • and for me to identify that I need more self-care / me-time so that I have more reserves for handling BIG issues as they come up!

I am passionate about the need for all parents to understand emotions – how they work? how our brains process them? how kids develop emotional intelligence? How we can use mindfulness to find our inner calm and to help our kids to calm down too?

Here is a video I made for our recent How To Talk So Kids Will Listen group on how to deal with Big Feelings.

I’m so excited to have a *NEW* short online course ‘Understanding Emotions’ – you can work through it at your own pace, when it is convenient for you – there are slides , videos & reflective questions to encourage deep learning!  I highly recommend it,  you can free trial some of the videos here

I’d love your feedback!

Understanding emotions


Free Resource: If you would like FREE mindfulness prompts like the one above with strategies on how to deal with a STRONG feeling (yours or your kids) – please sign up at or for recommended mindful parenting resources go to


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Mindful Dancing

tribal bellydance

‘So take your dancing into your own hands, heal and strengthen your body, as many a woman has done before you and will continue to do.  Set out on this great adventure with yourself and discover the universe’. Rosina Fawzia Al-Rawi in Grandmothers Secrets: The Ancient Rituals & Healing Power Of Belly Dancing, 2003, p 63

Just recently I decided to get back into Tribal Belly Dance – and I realised that the link to my other passion, mindfulness may not be that clear so here is why I’m back dancing…

I started dancing when my twins were 18 months old (10.5 years ago!) Up until that point in my parenting I had tried creative writing, drumming, kayaking, touch football – I was looking for that elusive activity that would give me back my identity as me, a woman, just a once a week, a break from being mum to 4 small children…

When I first danced in a beginners belly dance class with a group of women I had tears in my eyes – this is what I was searching for….a chance to be feminine without it directly relating to being Mum….a chance to connect with a group of women in a way that is as ancient as rock carvings on cave walls….and lots of fun.

And so began my belly dance journey – leading me to the point where I was teaching beginners, I became certified to teach Shemiran Ibrahim’s Belly Dancing From The Heart method to foundation level students and I began leading a Tribal Belly Dance group – but then ….it all changed – it got stressful, too political, there was too much criticism and I let self-doubt creep in and I gave it all away…..

In a way that was good – I found mindfulness instead and I began doing ceramics (another mindful activity)….but there’s been a gap, a hole…. I know that when I’m dancing I just feel pure JOY…nothing beats it for me….and so after months of thinking about it – here I go – branching back into Tribal Belly Dance!  I had a taster last year with a workshop with Devi Mamak in Lismore and LOVED it!

For me Tribal Belly Dance is very mindful -it requires all of your mind to hear the beat and instruct your body on how to move, as a friend would say ‘a complete emotional holiday.’

Tribal Belly Dance is about tribal dance moves taken from tribes around the world and a group of women using them to improvise and move with the music, telling a story with their bodies.

Rosina Fawzia Al-Rawi summed it up best when she said ‘To perform belly dancing it does not matter…the age, size or status of the woman.  Belly dancing is not a competition, competing is not part of its nature.  Only a woman’s life experience & sensuality can lend it meaning and true depth’.

She also said ‘Expressing her personality through dancing, at times alone, at times with others, enables a woman to take a new look at her sometimes negative self image in a supportive & strengthening atmosphere.  This uniting of earth & spirit, strength & grace, intensity and inner peace, sensuality & poetry enables many a woman to reach inner freedom.

THIS is what I love about belly dancing – and I didn’t want to quit doing it because I was feeling criticised, because I was doubting my ability to get perfect technique.   My desire to dance is to connect with other women and music in a joyful and fun way – not to become an expert.  And so I’m looking forward to the next chapter of sharing tribal belly dance with a group of adventurous women!!

Brene Brown in her Gifts Of Imperfection book dedicates a whole chapter to the need we have as human beings to dance, laugh and sing so that we truly live wholeheartedly and feel a deep connection with others.

How can you bring more laughter, singing and dancing into your life?  Even if it’s just in your loungeroom?

Keeping kids safe & mindful online…

My biggest parenting challenge right now is screens & the internet – it is ever more intrusive as the kids get older (my 4 are aged between 12-17!) and ‘need’ it for homework, socialising, music, take photos / films, entertainment etc etc….and the battle for screen-free time in our family grows!

No internet

So I’ve been doing a bit of research…and found this great website  on keeping kids safe online – I really like the idea of introducing a contract – the earlier the better I think!  There’s some great articles there, worth a look – and I LOVED Martine’s unplugged parenting section so important for keeping some screen free time in the family!

I have always quoted the AMA research and recommendations that kids only have 2 hours of screen time per day to my kids – as they respond better to hearing that an expert recommends it and it’s not just me making something up!!  But recently the AMA has said they need to change these recommendations because they are no longer realistic – an average 11 year old can spend up to 8 hours a day on the screen (school time included) and a teenager even longer!  This really alarmed me so I had to go and do some more research about the impact of screens / internet use….just in case my kids challenged me again about my 2 hour limit rule!!

Firstly – it is widely researched that for every hour of sedentary behaviour over 2 hours per day – your chance of dying at a younger age is increased compared to those who are more active during the day.  This ALONE is justification for insisting the kids spend less time on their screens at home – given so much of their school day is sitting!  But surely there are other ill effects and here is what I found:

Effects of too much time on the screens:

  • Poor Posture
  • Poor Eyesight
  • Poor Motor skills
  • Disrupted Sleep
  • Increased sedentary behaviour  – poor health,
  • Social isolation and reduced social skills
  • Reduced active play /social interaction crucial for brain development
  • Reduced psychological wellbeing: (self-esteem, jealousy, FOMO,   reduced mood, unable to be alone)
  • young kids who used tablets had poorer short term memory
  • Your body stores more energy than your use

Just the last point alone – that your body stores more energy than it uses – has a massive impact on kids behaviour and attitude around the house!  I know if my kids spend an hour playing computer games then the next 30 minutes we cop grumpiness and foul moods afterwards!  This is one of the biggest issues I see in my parent coaching – that kids misbehave late afternoon / evening and it is often because they have spent too long on screens and haven’t burnt off their energy in a healthy proactive way after school!

I also saw an alarming documentary recently by the ABC in Australia on wifi – apparently the French government are so concerned re: the effects of wifi in children that they have banned any wifi from being in schools or preschools.   Wireless technology is so new that they don’t yet know the effects it can have on children – but they recommended turning off your wifi at night and keeping it well away from you – hard to do with a tablet or phone…but important information for us to have as parents!

Tips for healthy mindful screen use:

  • You own the wifi/modem – take control!  It can be your most powerful bargaining chip!
  • Negotiate Time Limits – (like budgeting)
  • Role Model – the l;atest reserach said the average adult checks their mobile phone every 6.5 minutes even without a notification – we need to turn it off and be present to our kids…
  • Set Screen Free Times e.g. Screen Free Sundays
  • PLAN AHEAD: negotiate what happens when the time is up!
  • CONTRACT: safe and responsible use & consequences
  • Docking station – for meals & bedtime
  • Get involved – know apps, games, social media –check in
  • Teachable moments… good and not good use of social media
  • Physical & Social time: daily physical outdoor & social time
  • Hobbies and Sport: fulfilled & interested in the world
  • Investigate a Net Nanny option – to ensure kid safe websites / browsing only


Our biggest rule which I’m so glad we started when the kids were younger was no screens in the bedroom – and all screens need to be docked in the living room at night – and just to be sure we also turn off the wifi or at times hide the modem!!  This way we can keep an eye on what they are being exposed to!   Our second biggest rule was NEVER give personal details away online or download anything without checking with us first!

We have also started Screen -Free Time on the weekends – where the internet is off except for 2 hours in the afternoon!  It’s just so nice to see the kids talk, play, get creative, go outside and be less moody – when the screens are OFF!  And it is so much healthier for us as adults too – to be screen-free means to be work-free and we can be more mindful – live in the present moment, connect with the kids or do things that are deeply satisfying…

One of my 12 year olds recently commented that being on a screen is like being on a Pokie machine – and it really made me think – it truly is like gambling!  If you watch anyone on their phone they have the same blank stare!    I read something recently that stated every like and notification we get on social media releases a little hit of dopamine – just like gambling – scary stuff!  And kids games are set up in the same way!  As recently stated on the Smiling Mind facebook page ‘ We do it (check notifications) to feel more connected, but it actually has the opposite effect, keeping us in a shallow state of distraction.’

So here is to more screen-free time – it automatically makes you more mindful, and more open to what is happening in the present moment!  It can feel strange at first – even making a whole morning screen-free – the first time we did it the whole family was itching…just as if we were gamblers….to get on to our devices!  It was as if we had forgotten that there is a whole world of stuff to do out there in the real world – including just being and hanging out with each other or reading a book!  We had to do lots of negotiating with the kids and we copped a bit of a backlash – but now it is routine I really enjoy our screen-free time!  We even had to talk to our kids about there being other ways to research your homework, find a recipe (heaven forbid there are recipe books still in our house!!! – our kids were shocked!) and that they could even PHONE a friend!!!

So good luck finding your new mindful screen – free times – I’d love to know what works for you and your family?


3 Mindful Practices Online Course

rock cairn shutterstock

So excited the NEW Online 35 Minutes of Mindfulness Online Course is live…

it’s FREE and only 35 minutes long –
If you are keen to explore 3 different mindfulness practices – what would normally be in week 1 of our Mindfulness Practice class – here it is!

I’d really welcome your feedback!!

Hope you are having a Mindful Moment!!

Cheers, Sara 🙂


Gladdening our heart increases our resilience…

Breathing in the good – Gladdening our heart…Building our resilience…
Joy quote
I’m currently doing Brene Brown’s Art Journalling course on the Gifts of Imperfection! (
I totally recommend it – it’s fun and gets the creative juices flowing and covers topics such as courage, joy & gratitude & creativity! All things I need more of in my life!
Brene talks about something called ‘foreboding joy’ – and I love the concept! It is where feeling joy & gratitude makes us feel sooo vulnerable that we deflect it, move on or even go straight to a place of fear where we worry about what we will lose.
She shares as an example going in to say goodnight to her daughter and melting with love – then immediately being fearful that something bad might happen to her daughter – almost as a protective instinct!
This totally makes sense to me – to keep ourselves safe we are on the look out for all possible and perceived dangers – AND we hardly allow ourselves to feel, to breathe in joy! No wonder so many of us are feeling stressed and burnt out.
So this past week I’ve been noticing those beautiful joyful moments – that may be really fleeting – singing loudly in the car with my daughter, seeing a turtle while stand up paddle boarding, laughing with the kids, seeing a community of people working together and deliberately pausing and breathing it in and sitting with it!
The more I practice mindfulness the more I realise we have a choice as to where to focus our thoughts and mind…and the more I focus on loving kindness and gratitude and joy the better I feel…and the more resilient I am.
If overcome with vulnerability then Brene recommends saying out loud I’m feeling vulnerable and I’m grateful for…so we still acknowledge the moment!
Tara Brach has a great meditation on her website re: gladdening the heart and it’s about deliberately recalling activities you love to do and happy memories – the art journalling activities are great for that! And in the brain research now they know that dwelling on happy memories releases a hit of the feel good dopamine…so it’s lovely to stop and breathe in a good moment and store it as a happy memory to turn to for a mood boost when you need it!
So let me know how you gladden your heart this week – what golden moments, no matter how small or fleeting did you breathe in to your heart? 🙂 
My new Resilient Families Thriving Kids Online Coaching Course starts in August.  You can sign up here: 
Would love to have you share the journey with us! Cheers, Sara x