Saturday, 12 November 2016

Discussing funerals

I have had another difficult discussion with our eldest daughter this week about funerals. Unfortunately, my husband had a family member pass away recently and he went to attend their funeral. Our big girl asked me what a funeral was, so I told her it was a way of everybody being able to say goodbye to someone after they had died. I told her truthfully that the boost is put in a special box called a coffin which gets carried into the funeral.
"But what happens to the box after you say goodbye?"

Being 6, I needed to keep this as simple as I could for her without being untruthful. We've had discussions about death before, as some of you may have read previously on another post.
I told her that either the body gets buried into the ground or sometimes they get burnt in a special fire.  Then, the ashes that are left behind are scattered in a special place to help make the flowers grow.
"But that would hurt them wouldn't it? Or is the box fireproof?"

A tricky one to answer. Keep this simple and sensitive.
"Well, they won't feel any pain because they are dead and have left their bodies behind"
We often say that the soul inside us floats up into the clouds which seems to be enough for her in terms of understanding.

It is not an easy thing to talk about, especially if the person who has passed away is close to you and perhaps your child is attending the service with you. In our case the questions were because Daddy was going and she didn't really know the family member. This kind of made it a bit easier to discuss in some ways.

The most important thing for me was to remain as simple and truthful as possible. I want her to make her own decisions about whether she believes in heaven or life after death, so by just saying that our souls go above the clouds, I think it's simple enough for her to grasp and not as scary to think about, especially with her anxieties about death.
Answering questions as best you can, letting them talk about it as openly as possible and listening to their ideas is a great way of discussing funerals and death with children. Our discussion ended up onto whether they get thirsty above the clouds, would you see them if we flew in an aeroplane above the clouds and do they play with other people who have died?


Let them cry about it if they want to, let them understand it's ok to be sad but also that the best thing is that the person who died doesn't feel pain anymore. I explained that her Daddy's Aunty was very poorly but now she is better because she has left her body behind and gone above the clouds to be happy.
Such a tricky topic, but one we all as parents have to discuss at some point.
What has worked for you when discussing funerals and death??

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Under Pressure

No matter how we parent our children, we still feel pressure to be better!

It isn't all rosy being a parent. Yes, we have these beautiful children loving us unconditionally and have wonderful adventures together, but all the time we are doing these things and learning with every step how to care for and raise our children, we constantly worry about how we are seen by others!
I am not sure if it is just me, but I often find myself wondering if I'm doing things right and whether or not others will think I'm a bad parent or not. It is hard with so many people quick to judge others in the playground, out shopping or on social media. It is almost like for every step you take or decision you make, there is someone out there ready to put you down!
As parents, we spend 80% if not 100% of our time worrying about our children. Are they ok at school today? Are they struggling? Are they eating well? Have they had someone to play with.....it goes on and on! No wonder parents get so stressed with this on top of all the other factors they need to think about every single day!

I have tried not to get too hung about what people think of my parenting skills. After all, they are my children and how I raise them is my business, but I still do find myself asking others for their opinions and advice. Most of the time, we find ourselves longing to be like other parents who seem "perfect" to us....those who seem to have themselves together and calm. Truth is, they are probably as stressed as you are and look at you wishing exactly the same!! It's crazy!

I think the more we doubt ourselves, the more our children see how stressed we become trying to conform. It is hard when they've been driving us crazy all day (I've had one of those days with my youngest!!) and you just want to totally lose your temper and stamp your feet and scream!  But it is something we all have to deal with as parents as best we can. We all make mistakes...I know I make plenty but I've never been a parent to a six year old before, and just like she is finding her way in the world, I am still finding my feet in parenting her!!

We, as parents, need to give ourselves a break! We need to praise ourselves more! Once, I had a particularly good day where I solved a parenting issue with my eldest and found myself congratulating myself in the mirror that evening! I should do it more often as we don't have someone there all the time giving us a pat on the back, do we? Maybe one way to handle it is to write the positives down, especially on a bad day...

"I didn't raise my voice"
"I held it together when they went into school for the first time today"
"I stuck to my guns"
"I CAN DO THIS!!"

I am going to try this. It would be interesting if any of you do too and see if it helps! It is time to forget worrying about what others think of our parenting and start praising ourselves for them great job we are doing!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Dealing with a child's fear of death

Tears at bedtime has led me to do some research

I have just had a rather difficult bedtime. My eldest has been a bit wary about going back to school over the last few days. There were many possible reasons for this, which I was aware of and keeping an eye on. But, as I put her to bed this evening, another possible cause came to light.

" I don't want to go to school, I am worried"
" What about?"'
Her face turned rather quickly to full blown tears.
" I don't want you to die..............."

Not an easy one to answer. I do not want to lie to her, I can't tell her I wont ever die. She continued to get more upset as we discussed it. I said I am not going to die for a very long time and I will be very old. She says " But I dont want you to die when you are old. I dont want to die. I dont want Daddy to die. I dont want to be alone."

So, it is a mixture of fear....death and being alone. I tell her she is never alone, she has lots of family to look after her "But they are all older than you and they will all die too"

No matter what I say, it was not stopping her getting upset. I managed to calm her down by telling her I wont ever leave her, I am always in her heart. We had a laugh by closing our eyes and imagining each other doing funny things, and imagining what Daddy was doing right now on his way home from work.

I was very upset, holding the tears as she broke her heart in front of me.

Thanatophobia, or fear of death is actually quite common in children aged 4-8 years. The advice which I have researched simply says to deal with it as soon as you can, and if it persists for 6 months or more, to seek professional advice.

Other advice is not to discuss it at bedtime,but to say we will discuss it tomorrow (whoops!!)
I have always tried to be honest about death with my daughter. We have gone through a pet dying when she was a lot younger, whom she often talks about. Going to a C of E school, the idea of heaven is discussed, but I always have taken the stance that when we die, our bodies go in the ground and the person we are inside floats above the clouds. She has often asked about the graveyard near our house and I have always been as honest as I can, explaining it as best I can for a young child.
It is a rather difficult subject and fear to overcome. One can only imagine the thoughts in a young childs head when thinking about such things.

Some helpful articles are :
www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/11075311/Children-and-the-fear-of-death.html
http://reneevandervloodt.com/blog/how-to-address-your-childs-fear-of-death-and-dying/11/2015
www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Understanding-Childhood-Fears-and-Anxieties.aspx

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Challenging behaviour in a 6 year old girl..........with attitude!

Forget 2 year old tantrums, threenagers and impending teenagers, 6 is the new 16!!

I never realised 6 was going to be a tough age. My eldest daughter has had her moments in the past, but since finishing the school year back in July, it is like a monster has taken her over!
She is rude, she is answering back (with an answer for everything!), she stamps her feet, she throws things, she even kicks out at me. Where has my beautiful girl gone and why is she lovely one minute and hell on earth the next?

I am not the only one struggling with this. Talking to the Mums of my daughters closest female friends, they are all experiencing similar traits. It is a relief to know it is not just me, but is it something purely developmental??

I have had a look into this challenging behaviour, and found some interesting reads. I had never thought of 6 being "middle childhood" but according to one article by the New York Times it is!!

 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/science/now-we-are-six-the-hormone-surge-of-middle-childhood.html?pagewanted=all
According to the article : "it is a time of great cognitive creativity and ambition, when the brain has pretty much reached its adult size and can focus on threading together its private intranet service"
So perhaps sometimes the brain is just trying to deal with too much information all at once? I didn't even realise her brain was almost adult size!!

Then I stumbled across a very interesting piece on Rudolph Steiner, whom I had studied when doing my Foundation Degree. He described something called "Teeth and Rebirth" https://anthromama.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/teeth-and-rebirth/

It could be possible that my daughters change in behaviour could have something to do with the emergence of her new adult teeth! An interesting theory and quite possible. Other sources online think it could be a developmental hormone surge!
It is difficult to underline the true triggers to this behaviour, but as I am not alone I can only imagine that it is totally normal for 6 year olds to go through this phrase.


Now on to how I am dealing with it all......

I have reverted back to behaviour charts. This is something I started up again back when she was 5. I started a "Smiley chart" placing a smiley face for each day she was well behaved and then offering treats for 5,10 and 15 smiles in a row. This seemed to work for a while, but its effectiveness soon began to falter after a while. I thought  perhaps the fact that I was using a sad face symbol when she had had a bad day was a little too homing in on the negative. I have begun a new system this week, involving a jar on a piece of paper with lots of circles to colour in inside. There are 50 altogether, so when she has coloured all of them, she gets a treat. She gets to colour in so many per day depending on her behaviour. A really good day gets 3 beads. A good day gets 2 and an ok  day gets 1. A bad day gets 0, but this is not really seen on the chart, she just knows she didn't earn any on that day.

When the behaviour is happening, I was reacting to it. I was losing my cool with her.....the constant rude back chat and the way i was being spoken to riled me. But, that is what she wanted. On holiday, I was used as a kick bag. She objected to the fact that she didn't have a bedtime story because she had been rude and promptly lay there kicking my back as I tried to get her sister to sleep.

I calmly told her that I wasn't happy with her and that she was hurting me and she continued until she realised she wasn't going to get a reaction from me. Yes, it hurt, but in the morning once she had slept on things and was refreshed, I sat her down to tell her how cross I was and how she would have to have some privileges taken away.
Just this evening I was told "I don't want you anymore, you are mean and nasty"
I just replied "Ok, Goodnight" and left her to her ramblings. I know she doesn't mean the things that she says, she just knows that she can hurt my feelings by saying nasty things. 
If I do not react, she soon tires of it and just does what she was told to do (Although it can take a while!)

It is a very trying and testing time. She is still generally a lovely girl, but has that little streak which rears its head when she is tired or when something happens she doesn't like.
All I can say is roll on school next week!!

Thursday, 25 August 2016


            It has been a while, I have been busy but I am back.....and looking for myself again!!

Having two girls has been amazingly hard, amazingly wonderful and very tiring! We have just come back from an fantastic holiday, but have struggled with our now 6 year old and her challenging moods and behaviour.
"It's hard being a big sister" I get told after another melt down.
Yup....but its harder being mother to you both sometimes!!

Now we are back and the new school year is looming, I have started to feel a little lost again. What does the end of the year hold for me? Where am I exactly going with my life now? It is like I am missing something, but I cannot put my finger on exactly what that is.
I am sure every single stay at home mum feels like this sometimes. It is almost like we are stuck in limbo....the world and all our old work friends moving on and doing what seems like something amazing with their lives, working so hard to make something of themselves as well as keeping a family.

I am so very grateful for my children and the life that I have, as so many people would love to be in my situation, but I get the feeling that I work so hard keeping the peace between my two and keeping the family going that I have lost who I am in a way.
I have looked online to try and find out what it is I am missing and just how other Mums deal with this. I am not the only Mum who feels like their identity is lost at times. It is just a question of finding the thing to channel my passions into to find myself again. I have to think about what defined me before being a mum..... creativity, singing, child care, work, writing..... some of these things I have tried to get back into to find myself again but i have had no luck sticking to it with the outside pressures and everyday life!

I am so inspired by my friends. They mostly have children themselves and they are doing new things, re training to do what they are passionate about and getting out there setting themselves challenges.
I just need to find my mojo again...and find out what I am passionate about (aside from my beautiful children of course!!)

Watch this space!!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Meeting the stars

              

                                                    


                       How a trip to the theatre ended up with meeting a few VIP's!

Yes, that is me and my daughter meeting Jason Manford last Sunday! We had been to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Mayflower theatre in Southampton and our lovely little girl had drawn a picture of the car to give to "The Daddy in the play" I made a promise to her that we could give it to him after the show, so we went to the stage door and waited patiently to meet him!

I had never ever done hanging around the stage door before, and so my daughter, husband and I were sharing  an experience for the first time together. The show had been amazing, full of colour, fun and comedy which we all enjoyed immensely. We always have loved taking our daughter to the theatre. I feel it is an experience everyone should have. We look at the orchestra pit and discuss the instruments and wonder at how anyine managed to paint the ceilings so beautifully!

I was a little concerned about taking her to wait in the cold afterwards, but we did not have to wait too long and there were not many people there on this occasion.

I think I was a little more excited than my daughter to be honest! First, we were met by the lovely Martin Kemp, who was playing the child catcher. It was for this reason our little one would not have her picture taken with him!! We then met Phill Jupitus and Michelle Collins and then finally, Jason came out to say hello!

It really made my daughter proud that she had made something for someone important in the show! She was so eager to tell her friends at school the next day how she had met Mr Potts and gave him a picture of his flying car!

Now, I am not saying we should encourage our children t to be "Groupies", but this experience was definitely a memory that she will remember for a long time to come. Jason spoke to her so kindly and thanked her for the picture. It was great that he took the time to really talk about what she had drawn and how lovely her writing was. I probably won't be doing this everytime we get to go to a show, but i really think it added to the whole experience.

Plus I was hugged by Jason Manford AND Martin Kemp.
Well, it made my day!!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

If you can't join them, beat them!

   Sometimes if you don't like it, do it yourself!

I recently had a really bad experience when going to a local parent and toddler group. Being January at the time, I think many mums had made the resolution to do more with their children, as all had decended on this particular group!

I was looking to get out of the house more but did not want to commit to a group when you pay in advance. I am not the best person when entering well established groups, so felt nervous about going and at first the ladies seemed friendly. But, as the room filled up faster and faster my little one could not move without being trampled on, pushed and even slapped on the head! It was clear they went over their limit of people and I'm sure health and safety was being compromised!
I was physically shaking coming out before the end and actually cried. Why had I put my child through that?

Of course, I had a little rant on social media and my friends hinted I should be doing my own group to combat this. I kaughted it off, but soon realised they could be right. A few weeks later and I'm doing it!

A fellow mummy who also had noticed the lack of quality drop in groups has been my saviour and has jumped at the chance to start our own group. We have found a venue, got our idea with a creative feel to it and we start next month! We obviously have had to go through a lot of important issues and the Internet has helped with a lot of this! There is a section of well known mum sites which help with this!

By doing this venture we hope to bring something to the community and also to show our own children that if there is something people need, you can make a difference!