Monthly Archives: February 2015

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Introducing affirmations for my anxious preschooler

It’s probably no surprise that I’m anxious about my daughter being anxious.

From the varied media that I’ve consumed on the subject matter, the common consensus seems to be that my children are more likely to suffer anxiety compared to the norm. If it  doesn’t slip through via genetics, then they will probably pick it up through learned behaviour anyway. Great. 

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I’ll admit, I’ve been watching her like a hawk over the years, keen to pick up on any telltale anxious-child signs. I have heard all my life that the sooner you pick up on it, the easier the management, so I’m watching vigilantly (ok, so maybe somewhat neurotically. Go figure).

I’ve noticed my daughter is quick to say “I can’t” and give up when she can’t do something perfectly. (These two words are probably the most common words that go around inside my anxious brain alongside “not possible”, and “never”). Uh oh – is this a warning of things to come with my daughter?

She also tells me she feels shy. While I’m super impressed by her emotional intelligence, I do worry about her shyness at times because I fear she experiences anxiety alongside this shyness. In new situations involving other children she will often tell me “no one likes me, mummy”. Maybe I’m being paranoid but these words seem more significant than “typical three year old stuff”.  Uh oh. I think she is already worried about what other people think of her.

Noticing these things about her, I’ve decided to add two anxiety-busting tools into our bedtime routine. Tools she has started to absolutely love, without knowing my hidden agenda. Sure, they might be a bit new-age, but they pack a powerful punch when it comes to fighting anxious thoughts and building firm foundations in terms of self-esteem.

(1) I’m happy for…

This “game” is basically a gratitude list. I demonstrated how to do it for a few nights, but after that she took to it with gusto! It’s not so much about what she is saying, but THAT she is saying it. It’s a subtle reminder before she goes to bed of the many positive things in her day. It puts her into a calm and happy frame of mind before sleep. And hey, if she is happy for “our big garage” and that “she touched a lizard!” then that’s just grand! (I love having a window into the inner workings of her mind when we do this game!)

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(2) The repeat game

I start with some basics, as she repeats her name, her age, where she lives. I then launch into some positive self-worth stuff – easy affirmations for preschoolers. It sounds like this:

You’re great at somersaults.

You are an excellent soup maker.  

You love cuddling your baby brother.

It’s funny, but she always calls me to task on any affirmations that are inauthentic. Her corrections are beautiful and evidence of self-awareness. “No mummy, I don’t love cuddling my brother. I love kissing him. On his tummy. Not on his eyes though”. (Ok, good to know then!)

I always include the famous lines from The Help somewhere within our ritual:

These are some of the most powerful words I’ve ever heard, and I think they’re so important for our daughters.

I must admit that I also tell her she is beautiful as part of these affirmations, but I stress that being a beautiful isn’t as important as being nice. I incorporated this lesson after feeling irrationally upset when my daughter casually mentioned she wanted to be Elsa because she was the prettiest one (of all the princesses). I wanted to get into that brain of hers nice’n’early and tell her about what really matters!

These affirmations and gratitude lists are now every bit as important in our bedtime routine as the book reading and song-singing, and I hope they are doing some good in terms of creating a calm, happy, and healthy three year old mind.

I might not be able to prevent anxiety in her life, but I will do my absolute darnedest to help her manage it!

Do you do any affirmations or meditation with your kids? Tell me about it! 

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Week 3 of ‘The Lovers’ Diet’ – The Valentine’s Day Challenge

I haven’t done The Lover’s Diet posts in a while because I’ve been time poor and sleep deprived.

I know, I know…. I’m a mum. This is what I signed up for so I will get no sympathy. You’re probably wondering how hard can it be to fit fifteen teeny, tiny minutes into my day for the sake of my relationship. That’s the whole point of The Lover’s Diet in the first place, right? It’s a program to encourage you to get into good habits with your partner, to keep the spark alive. I guess I’m not a good ambassador. But I’m a real-life woman, with real-life stuff going on and I have put this on the backburner.

But my love life can only go on the backburner for so long, and there ain’t no getting around it when Valentine’s Day comes around and smacks you in the face.

Loved up in NYC
Loved up in NYC

Let me tell you what Valentine’s Day looks like in my house nowadays. Picture this.

Take out dinner. A card. Some wine. And if I’m really really lucky, a much-wanted pot plant (instead of flowers). I’ve been planting the seed in not-so-subtle ways (pardon the pun) so let’s see.

We will turn off all electronic devices. We don’t have a TV, so that will force us to talk. And we will enjoy our conversation while we wait for one of the kids – if not both – to wake up and require us to resettle, or take to the toilet, or prove there’s no monster in the closet, or change a nappy.

Romantic huh?

What my hubby isn’t suspecting is that I’m doing him a Valentine’s Day favour and this week’s challenge is finally one he can get excited about. (ahem).

This is the Seven Days of Sex challenge. It’s time to get some closeness through…well….closeness.

*Dear God, I hope my parents are not reading this*

This challenge has been inspired by some TV programs I’ve seen over the years, and this from The Couples Academy – they’re EXCITED!

No need to post your pics of this challenge onto Insta, my friends. But feel free to share what Valentine’s Day looks like at your house!

#theloversdiet
@stresslessjessie
#valentinesday

Good luck. Enjoy. And happy Valentine’s to one and all!

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Would you raise your kids differently if you had the chance?

I was recently interviewed alongside a number of fellow mums for an article that explored what we think we coulda, woulda and shoulda done differently if we had our time again. (You can check out the Kidspot article here.)

It was the sort of question you need to ponder in a yoga session, or contemplate while you sip on a chamomile tea and reflect back over the years. I, however, rushed straight in with the first few things that popped to mind from a list of a gazillion items. In fact, the only other person in the world with more things on his “shoulda done differently list” right now is probably Tony Abbott.

In my haste I failed to mention a heap of things; like how I would have made more of an effort to be clean if I could turn back the clock. Yes, I said clean. Not exactly synonymous with childrearing, but I flat out let my daughter be a grub. And all those ingrained food stains and grubby knee patches from her baby clothes stare back at me now as a constant reminder to me of how woefully unprepared I was for all that baby mess.

The list goes on, and on, and on. So many things I woulda, coulda, shoulda done differently…..

But when I read over the other interviews I pause. Hang on a sec.

There’s a universal theme here.

We were all sitting there wishing we hadn’t bothered so much about those things that seemed massively important at the time, but now seem completely inconsequential.

Across the board, we all wished we’d been easier on ourselves and…I hate to say it…. stressed less. 

Niki Gibbon’s comment in her interview was an ‘AHA’ moment for me. “I guess the things I would do differently are more about me than my child”. Actually….yep…. when I think about it, this is so very true for me.  And Bianca Tobia’s comment to “keep things simple” is another acknowledgement that maybe it is us – the parents – that complicate things unnecessarily with all our worrying. 

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Mum Niki with her (nearly!) 3-year-old girl, Isla.

In hindsight, it probably would have been a lot less stressful on me if I hadn’t repeatedly hit my head against the ‘routine’ brickwall so often; wasted time wondering why my daughter wouldn’t sleep when I was doing everything EXACTLY like Tizzy Hall told me to. I probably shouldn’t have even bothered with Tizzy Hall in the first place.  I definitely wouldn’t have read every baby book under the sun when I could’ve been reading Elizabeth Gilbert stuff instead – literature which has the bonus side-effect of nurturing my soul.

Perhaps we’ve been looking at all of this the wrong way? Maybe we shouldn’t be asking ourselves what we did wrong the first time around? Maybe we should put the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s aside and reflect on the did do’s instead.

I did give my daughter a billion cuddles a day.

I did feed my daughter when she was hungry.

I did sing to her, read to her, play with her, laugh with her, sleep with her, and cry with her. (And I still do).

I loved her to the absolute best of my ability. And if I had my time all over again, that’s the ONLY thing I’d be making sure I did again.

What about you? What are the things you definitely WOULD do again, if you had the chance?