Get Ready for the Holidays…

Get Ready for the Holidays with a Stress Reducing Morning Routine

Guest Blog by  Daniel Sherwin at DadSolo.com

Everyone knows that the holidays can be stressful. However, there are ways to prepare for the season that will help you to enjoy it more. One way to do the holidays right is to create a morning routine that helps get you out the door with as little chaos as possible. Here’s how:

Solo Dad Pic

Image Source: DadSolo.com

Additional Holiday Morning Routine Resources:

  1. Prep the night before and other tips on how to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works
  2. Easy and effective home organization tips
  3. De-stress your morning routine tips
  4. Breakfast to go and other secrets to getting the kids to school on time
  5. Get plenty of sleep and other tips on how to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works
  6. Play music (Revolutionary morning routine hack for kids)

Now that you have a plan for your mornings, you can be ready for whatever the day has for you. You can enjoy the upcoming holidays knowing that you and the kids are good to go.

Understanding meltdowns and how we can calm ourselves & our kids down…

 

For me understanding how our brain processes emotions, the triggers for the fight, flight or freeze responses in myself and in my kids has transformed my life!  I have also seen it transform many parents lives in coaching or in workshops as they understand that their child’s emotional brain is still developing and the ability to put the ‘brakes’ on is not yet mature.

Once we understand how the brain works – (in video above with this model of the Brain In the Hand by Dan Siegel) then we can begin to understand our own emotions and understand our child’s emotions.  What is the first sign for you that you are getting annoyed / irritated?  What is the first sign in your child?  What about for nervousness and excitement?  The Emotional Thermometer (in video below) is one of the best tools for developing awareness and understanding of emotions – a very important part of emotional intelligence.

Once we have this understanding and our kids have this understanding then we can begin to learn some mindful calming strategies – from simple 10 second activities to longer 5-10 minute activities suitable for young and old!

If you would like to learn more on the emotions and on calming strategies check out the NEW Understanding Emotions Online Course with short videos that you can access in your own time at your own pace and begin learning the skills needed to teach yourself and your children how to regulate emotions.

Which tool would be helpful in your house – the Flipping The Lid Brain in the hand model or the Emotional Thermometer?

The reality of school mornings (sigh!) and the need to breathe…

I’m wondering what mornings are like at your house? Yesterday was an absolute classic – with my twins (and me!) getting used to a new bus routine and earlier start time…for high-school.  With lots of opportunities to practice (sometimes without success!) mindful breathing!

breathe-stressed-mum

 

I began by meditating on my balcony, calming my mind and preparing myself for a peaceful Monday morning… (I can do this now my kids are older!)

I walk back into the house to find two kids still fast asleep despite the bus leaving in 40 minutes…
I wake them gently, calmly, glad I meditated..
I make 4 sandwiches virtuously – this is unusual for me as normally the kids help themselves to the lunch ingredients so less food is wasted…
So far so good,

Phil leaves early for work and all is well…
Someone yells there is no hot water – thank goodness it is a hot day and I make a mental note to get that fixed, but not to worry about it now, or even this week!

Kids groan and complain that there is no cereal despite there being 4 open boxes of different varieties on the bench – turns out that even though they went to Coles with their Dad on the weekend no one bought the cereal they like?

I breathe and begin to braid my daughters hair, a special request

Then youngest son takes too long in the shower, eldest son grumpy and yelling, youngest son calls out for a towel, no-one helps, I yell ‘you’ll have to get your own towel’ but in his wisdom he hops back into shower!

Eldest son gets louder and grumpier, and thumps on bathroom door!

I knock on door and shout loudly about 2 more people needing to still have a shower, the need to save water etc – and the door opens – he has found a towel in the bathroom (there all along!) and is now getting out…I loudly suggest please never have two showers in a row again!!!
I breathe but teeth gritted, calmness is evapourating…
I remember I’m out of my toasted muesli and unwisely I begin making this…
Then remember orthodontist appt for two children at lunch time and search frantically for paper and pen to write school notes and realise I will have to reorganise my whole entire day to fit this appt in… and cancel yoga 😦

I breathe…

Then I find youngest son, sitting in wet towel at the computer with 7 minutes to go until the bus leaves….I am no longer calm, I deliver an exploding lecture, I unplug computer in a rage…

And then I remember to breathe…

Two kids leave in good time to catch the bus, but I remember I haven’t said goodbye to one so shout out ‘fond’ farewell from front door that neighbours could hear!! And send a virtual hug!
Youngest son comes upstairs breathless, seemingly dressed, we hug, he thanks me for lunch, all is forgiven, I hug him tight and wish him well.
He races up to the bus…fingers crossed he’ll catch it.

I realise I have overcooked the muesli but it’s saved in the nick of time, thank goodness
Eldest son leaves on his bike, showered and peaceful, again thank goodness.

I breathe…
And I turn to face a tsunami of lunch / brekky stuff left out on the bench, discover the bathroom has been flooded from the earlier shenannigans and clothes are left everywhere…

and it’s only 8:08am!!!

I sigh, I breathe, I feel like going back to bed or at least meditating again to regain some of that calm but instead the day begins and I breathe and breathe and breathe as I regain some order both inside and out…

Phew!!

Anyone else have something similar happen at the start of the school or preschool year??

Finding Self-Compassion

Small changes seem to bring BIG changes if we can just persist and practice enough…

It is amazing to me when things start settling in – first we understand a concept with our minds, and then over time as we practice,  we understand it deeply with our hearts – and then the real change happens…   In my experience real change happens faster when we involve the right side of our brain and our subconscious and art journal / sketch / doodle responses and bring in visualisations / meditations.  Slowly for me have I been learning self-compassion…

self-compassion-book

I’ve been lucky this year to do Brene Brown’s Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course and Kristin Neff & Brene Brown’s Self-Compassion course- both online:  http://www.courageworks.com/shop/classes/self-compassion-with-kristin-neff-brene-brown and Tara Brach & Jack Kornfiled’s incredibly in depth Power Of Awareness online mindfulness course http://www.soundstrue.com/store/power-of-awareness where self-compassion is a key component…

We all have that inner critic, that war within ourselves…sometimes without us even being aware of it. The expectations we place on ourselves can be unrealistic and unachievable and we can be constantly beating ourselves up for not being better, perfect…

When I find myself getting highly critical of my loved ones then I know I’m being even more critical of myself!  Kristin Neff talks about how we are so much kinder and more compassionate to a best friend or child than we are to ourselves in the same situation yet it is very hard to express authentic compassion to others if we cannot express it to ourselves.

For me the journey of reducing this intense self-criticism began when I first became a Mum almost 18 years ago and had post natal depression.   I needed to let go of the ‘perfect’ should messages and give myself permission to have a messy house, look messy and have a messy garden and be tired and grumpy sometimes!   Since then it’s like I’ve needed to peel back the layers – uncovering other aspects of being too harsh on myself that I didn’t even know were there!

In the Gifts Of Imperfection Art Journalling course a powerful exercise is to find photos of your younger self and write down messages of self-compassion…it was very healing to find teenage photos and remember all of the angst and instead write with empathy, understanding, kindness and gentleness…as you would to your own child who is struggling.

Then in Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion course I learned that there are 3 core components to self-compassion:

  1. Mindfully notice that you are at war with yourself
  2. Realise our common humanity – we are ALL imperfect, we are all struggling on some level, we are all on a journey
  3. Offer words of kindness, and explore how to actively nurture yourself…

If you think about it this is what we would offer a friend or a child – we would

  1. Notice they are struggling
  2. Empathise and offer that reassurance – ‘it can be difficult’
  3. Offer words of kindness and give a little nurturing

As Brene Brown puts it when we are truly compassionate for another human being it brings out our best selves – yet often the same scenario for ourselves and we treat ourselves worse than anyone else!!  We would never say to someone else what can go through our own minds!

So I have been art journaling and reading and meditating on this topic for a few months now…practicing….and then just recently I was at war with myself.   I had good intentions to change my life for the better but my inner critic was LOUDLY saying ‘give up, it’s not worth it, you don’t have the will power, you’re not strong enough’ And the debate in my head was so unpleasant I wanted to give up JUST to silence the inner critic.

But then I remembered – self-compassion! I noticed and labelled what was going on….’I’m at war with myself’ – just doing that made it a little easier to breathe…then I was able to place my hand over my heart and breathe into the feeling and recognise…’gee it’s tough sometimes to be human, to have all these choices, to make a change for better’….then I remembered times in my past where it has taken at least a year to make one small change to the point that I can easily do it daily … and I was able to offer some kind reassuring words…

And just that small moment – resonated through my life to be a BIG shift – all week it was easier to make the change, all week I was kinder to myself…  So it took awhile for the info to go from head level to heart level but when it did – it was a beautiful moment!

I’m wondering if you have experienced something similar?  Or if you would like more self-compassion in your life?

I’m excited that we’ll be reading and discussing Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff as part of our online Mindfulness Book Club in February 2017.   We’ll also practice some self-compassion exercises and if you live in Port Macquarie then we’ll meet in person to discuss and practice… I’m really looking forward to it!

self-compassion-mindfulness-book-club

More Info: https://www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/mindfulness-book-club

or you can join us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlemindfulmomentsbookclub/

 

 

 

Mindful Healing

From burnt out to feeling calm and energised…

mum-asleep-on-floor

I don’t think I realised just how burnt out I was from a full on 3rd school term, and a pretty intense year so far….until taking some time out in the school holidays with the kids and after 2 weeks STILL feeling like not only had I stopped the adrenalin treadmill but I had fallen flat on my face and I was finding it very hard to get back up!

Have you ever had that feeling?

Even though I had been nurturing myself with afternoon meditations that I have to admit had turned into afternoon naps…and trying to get more sleep, get out into the fresh air, gentle exercise, reducing work, eat healthy meals….I still felt low on energy and I was craving sugary treats!   Luckily I had some other strategies up my sleeve which really helped and I’m keen to share them here!

I went to see a Chinese Medicine Practitioner for chinese herbs and acupuncture….it had been a while for me and this just felt sooooo nurturing and like the beginning of my energy levels coming back (Thanks Steph)!  Each time I drank the herbal brew I would have the mantra ‘ nourish, I am nourishing/nurturing my body!’ and I could feel a difference!

Then I caught the throat infection that the kids had had (just when I thought I’d escaped it!) so my next strategy was to visit a naturopath and that was really eye opening (thanks Nyree)!  To see on a screen my own blood cells and really see that they are not getting enough essential fatty acids, or B12 or magnesium etc made it seem essential to start making some changes and take some healthy supplements!

I was a bit scared when Nyree suggested that I reduce my sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates intake but it made sense and that day I bought the I Quit Sugar Book https://iquitsugar.com/ and That Sugar Film Book http://thatsugarfilm.com/ !   Initially I wasn’t sure but these authors convinced me within a few pages..mainly because they are all about taking a gentle approach and being kind to your own body!   So I decided I’d reduce sugar and bread but still have black tea, fruit and a tinge of honey in my chai – and pasta and rice with the kids at dinner time…..gently, gently….

I cannot believe how much better I feel after 8 days… I am truly feeling more energy internally and it is a total relief to get off the sugar high and sugar low roller coaster ride!  What has amazed me is the kids were really interested in the That Sugar Book and as a family we watched the That Sugar Film – very entertaining and sooo eye opening!  So now even the 4 teens in our house haven’t complained about no dessert being offered even though they haven’t changed their diet that much!

What has helped so much to keep the sugar cravings at bay (thanks Nyree) has been to add in lots of healthy fats, and to make little treats that have very little sugar in them but are filled with coconut oil and cacao and nut butters (A fave is here at http://divascancook.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-fat-bombs-keto-diet-recipe/ with Rice Syrup being the sweetener)…as well as a range of herbal teas (licorice root and spiced dandelion!        Also I have found that eating healthy fats without sugar and refined carbs, my appetite sensors are back and I am feeling really full after each meal!  Buying an abundance of healthy foods and eating very mindfully has really helped me to appreciate all this amazing food rather than feeling deprived!

The other thing that has helped greatly in this process is to keep up with the acupuncture and herbs…and to see my mindfulness coach twice through this process.  For me it was a BIG, no, HUGE realisation (thanks Kareen) to see that I was using the sugar and caffeine to keep me going….to give me a false sense of energy, to push myself to do more work!  And so going through the coaching process has really helped me to step back, go at a slower pace, relish life more, listen to my body and rest or change what I’m doing if it needs to!  It has really helped me to become a better , kinder and friendlier boss to myself!

So it’s early days yet – but I just wanted to share with you what has really worked for me when feeling really burnt out.  I’m enjoying the benefits of being off sugar so much I have joined the I Quit Sugar 8 week online program https://iquitsugar.com/ if you would like to join me?

I feel so grateful that we have so many amazing local practitioners who can become our support team and really help us to nurture and nourish ourselves.  I’d love to hear what has worked for you?

And I’m wondering where you are at now?  Do you need any extra support?   A key focus in my coaching with clients is on self -care and deep nurturing…sometimes we teach what we most need to learn, no?

If you would like to get in touch with me about the coaching I do I’m at sara@mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com or www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com

Cheers, Sara 🙂