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Parents Are Always Learning

Do mums and dads have all the answers in regards to parenting?  Hell No!  As a child care and special needs professional, constantly I am reminded that no matter how much information I know, my girls are always teaching me something new.

We hear a lot around mums groups that ‘things get easier’ but I always question do they?  I over heard a conversation between family members with one member stating all the facts about how having little ones are so much harder than ones who are older.  The other families were simply listening to the other family and their troubles.  I do not believe that it gets any easier as mums and dads face different issues and challenges.

We never have all the answers as mums and dads and we should always embrace the continual learning.  We should not feel any guilt that we do not have all the answers but feel kindness towards ourselves for not having the answers and seeking help to find those answers.

No Parent is Perfect!

How many times have you thought to yourself ‘that parent is parent because…………..’  well let me share with you a little secret.

NO PARENT IS PERFECT!  ESPECIALLY NOT ME !

If only you could be a fly on the wall this morning, you would soon realise that even I am not perfect all the time.  Here in Victoria, Australia we are heading into 3rd term holidays and my eldest Grace is having a massive week with having her first school concert.

School concert 2014

Grace has managed to battled with routine changes and having an all day rehearsals yesterday and then having the school concert last night (I won’t mention that she does it all again tonight) so this has put her anxiety through the roof which is extremely challenging for a child with autism.  But she has done an amazing job and looked like she really enjoyed herself last night.

But of course this morning it was emotional overload for both girls and it was not pretty.  On one hand she wanted to stay home but in the next breath she didn’t want to be last for school so there was a lot of screaming between both her and Emma.  Half way through it all, I lost it (parents are allowed to be exhausted) I lost it and started yelling at them.  Believe me I felt like a horrible mum after it all.  So even I have my ups and downs as a parent and I am more than happy to share it with you so you do not feel that I am always perfect and will lecture families on being perfect because that is not reality.

Nevertheless, I did find a little strategy that could help improve their mood for a little while.  I used the brush and I pretended to be a happiness fairy.  I waved it over their heads and said I am sprinkling happiness dust on them and through lots of giggling the mood changed into a more relaxed and happy one.

All I can say is bring on the school holidays but believe me they can be just as challenging for children with autism.

 

Congratulations Prince William and Princess Catherine

Coaching for Lifetime Change would like to congratulate Kate and Will on the arrival of their little boy.  It has been definitely a media circus leading up to the birth.  What was amazing was the dazzling smile they both had showing the new member of the family to the world. But there was also that look that all new mums and dads have with what do we do next.

But just like any new parent, they too will go through all the joys and struggles all parents have. I am sure they are working out how much little one is feeding, how do you change a nappy, how do you breast feed, sleep routine and simply getting to know this new little person in their lives.  Family of origin will definitely play a major part for Prince William and Princess Kate as not only did both come from different family lives but they have to work together on how to raise their new son.  I am sure that there is a sense of grief especially for Prince William as he will not have the chance to share it with his mum.  I remember feeling sad after the birth of my girls knowing that my dad was not there to share this wonderful moment.

The media needs to respect their need for time together as a family as from reports they want to shelter their new child from the media eye as much as possible.  They will also need to be firm with family and friends if they do not want visitors all the time and I do suggest a sign on the gate to let people know that the new family is resting.

I do hope they are hands on with the child and by media reports they will be and not relying solely on nannies to raise the child.  I wish you both all the best and feel free to contact me if you need any guidance 🙂

 

Mothers Guilt

There is an interesting article in Melbourne’s Child (June 2013) based on mothers guilt.  The author is saying that there is no room for mothers’ to feel guilty and I heartily agree.

Before a child is even conceived there is guilt put on the couple if conceiving has become a long journey.  Instant thoughts are what is wrong with me? We must be doing something wrong? Then of course there is the guilt of how you gave birth for instance cesarean, natural births with/without drugs.

After the baby is born women feel guilty if there isn’t that instant bond, they do not breastfeed, they don’t play enough with their child, if they immunise/not immunise their child.  The list is endless. We have so much information about what is right/wrong for your child, that parent’s are under so much pressure to get it right all the time.

But Michaela Fox hit the nail on the head with the this quote:

‘We need to stop accepting guilt as part of motherhood. Every mother has different skills and approaches to mothering; there is no single right way. We need to trust our instincts more and listen to others less.”

We know our child best!

 

The Challenges of School Holidays

008I have to admit that I was actually looking forward to school holidays. I miss Grace and Emma when they are at school and kindergarten.  I was looking forward to not doing school drop off for two weeks.  I was looking forward to simply spending time with them.

But of course that did not happen.  I was not prepared for the onslaught of poor Grace not being in routine.  I did not expect it to make sucg a difference to her because she had holidays at kindergarten last year. But I guess I did not factor in that she had days off during the week so it did not faze her as much.

Believe me this year it did!  I ended up calling her stand off Grace. Getting out of the house was a massive challenge with most of the time took 20 minutes.  Plus she constantly lost the plot throughout the day. It definitely woke me up to all the challenges that children with autism have.  On top of this, the holidays were full of catch up therapy appointments for both girls which gave us less activity time. But honestly, even without the appointments the activities would have been challenging to control her melt downs.

But she did manage to settle into holiday mode this week on Wednesday and now I wish we had another week to go.  I spoke to her occupational therapist and she suggested a social story for next holidays so we can at least prepare in advance for holidays.

The “Pros and Cons” About Becoming a Parent

I can hear people right now stomping their feet to my front door and coming with pitch forks screaming “You are lucky to be able to have children”, “You chose to have children” and all the rest of it.  I am hoping that some of you might actually read the rest of this article and may find this activity really beneficial.

Once you have little one in your arms, have you ever told your partner what you love about being a parent and what you do not look about becoming a parent?

Research shows that simply acknowledging the good and bad things about becoming a parent is actually a very healthy activity for parent’s to do.  By being able to talk about our thoughts in a constructive and safe environment, mums and dads can feel that they are being heard in regards to their thoughts of becoming a parent.

I remember thinking I was prepared for the change and that I will not be able to simply go out and catch up with friends and accepting the new journey I was about to embark on.  But honestly and I would love to hear from other mums and dads if they were truly prepared as much as you thought you were.  But be acknowledging the differences can be extremely therapeutic as you can let it out of your head and also let it go.

Is it a crime to do this?  Hell no.  If every parent did this activity, we might see a trend of people transitioning to parenthood a lot easier than what a lot of parent’s are at this stage.

I did not do this activity until I did volunteer training at PANDA and it really stuck with me that it is OK to say what we love and may be what we are still learning to adjust to. On my list were:

What I love:

  • That they were created out of love
  • Their little hands and toes
  • That we got through the birth process
  • Their little noises

What I Did Not Like:

  • PND (Postnatal depression)
  • My older child’s constant crying (boy does she have a set of lungs)
  • Breastfeeding (I had trouble with supply but was not confident who to call for help and Grace never attached)
  • Not being able to work
  • Not catching up with people as much as I used to.

Maybe my next post should be a follow up to the pros and cons and see how much things have changed.  I have attached below a sheet that mums and dads can use to do this activity at home.  Do not judge or analyse what people put on their list as it needs to be done in a safe environment so those thoughts can be acknowledged and then put aside.

Good and Bad stuff chart (Printable)

 

 

Who Will Listen?

Picture in your mind when you were working and all the stressful things that occurred whilst at work.  If you were not working imagine a situation that has been stressful to you.  Could you talk to someone and get some empathy?  Most likely.  Everyone knows how stressful work situations can be with tasks needing to be done yesterday, reviews, conflicts with other staff and that is seen as normal.  Plus you also get training etc to teach you about how to get these tasks done etc etc etc.

But how much training do you get about raising a child?  There are birth classes which only teach you about how to give birth. There are plenty of books out there but may not assist your situation.  You have a health professionals who can be great whilst others can be judgemental. You have nine months to prepare for a child but the percentage of that is materialistic preparation.  You prepare a nursery, bed etc but does that help prepare you?  No it does not.

Listening.2For a parent, the changes happen over night.  One minute you are still just partners entering into the world of parenthood.  Then all of a sudden there is a child in your arms with their own personality and needs.  Can you receive the training needed to work out everything you need to do like in work situations?  No you can’t.

But who are you doing to talk to about these changes.  People without children may be wishing that you stop complaining because you may have the family they still want.  You may turn to other people with children and they just tell you welcome to parenthood and get on with it.

In the title the key word is LISTEN. Listening is simply being present in the conversation, not thinking about what you have to do and simply listening to what the other person is saying.  Majority of the time the person is just wanting to get something off their chest and just needs to be listened to.  Try it next time someone wants to talk to you.

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