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Monthly Archives: October 2012

One thought has haunted me since the last parenting course session – your child’s intrinsic character won’t change so don’t allow the day-to-day struggles to destroy your relationship. Keep open  the channels of communication and build your relationship with your child. As Rob Parsons said, your six-year old will test you all the way and the conflict will be worse when she is sixteen but on the rollercoaster ride keep hold of the relationship because one day you will have a beautiful friendship with your twenty-year old, your thirty-year old and your forty-year old daughter.

Sophie will always be dreamy, distracted, creative and sometimes on another planet – I can shape her but I can’t push her into an ill-fitting mould. I can direct her strong character and understanding of human nature to become a force for good. Work with who your child is, treat your child with dignity, choose your battles and keep the relationship flourishing.

If you want to know more about The Parenting Course, click on this link to read my initial post about the course. Here is a link to the Holy Trinity Brompton website which has a video about the course www.relationshipcentral.org.

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I love walking with my children and even better when it includes a little foraging. This is the time of year to collect sloes which are blue-black bitter fruit growing on blackthorn bushes. Sloes need to be collected in October after the first frost, but if autumn is mild or you want to beat the birds, collect them early and put them in a freezer. Sloes are too tart to eat but are perfect in gin, making a tasty, sweet and glorious ruby sloe gin. If you get your skates on, you can make this as Christmas gifts. Below is the recipe I am using courtesy of National Trust.

For 1 litre of Sloe Gin you will need:
– 450g sloes
– 300g caster sugar
– 1 litre gin any brand – cheap gin works just as well
– A 2 litre Kilner jar
– A bottle for decanting

Step 1
Wash your sloes and remove any leaves or stems. Prick as many as you can with a needle or sharp fork. This helps to release the juices. If you have frozen them make sure you de-frost them first.

Step 2
Sterilise your jar with boiling water. Put your sloes, sugar and gin in the jar. Seal and shake the jar every day until sugar has dissolved, then once a week.

Step 3
After 10-12 weeks decant your sloe gin into a bottle and enjoy at your leisure.

Top tip:
Sloe gin gets even better with age, you could make two lots and hide one away for next year. If you do this every year you will always have a vintage supply of this delicious tipple.

‘Jobs about the house’ is what my friend’s son calls chores. When I reviewed chores, I realised my youngest, Ella was getting away with murder. The bigger two were drying themselves by three as a baby had now arrived in the family, Ella is four and stands like royalty with arms outstretched while I dry and dress her. I am remedying that!

Each child has a job that benefits the family and is also learning responsiblity for pets. When the chores increase, the children’s pocket money increases but they are not strictly linked as I want my children to realise jobs are part of family life where we all pull our weight. One friend had a super solution for her older children when they didn’t do their jobs – they could pay their parents to do the chores. The pain of having to pay dad 50p to pack the dishwasher was far greater than having their pocket money docked. Definitely a strategy to remember!

Ages 2 – 4 years
Clear own plate from the table
Dry himself after a bath
Start dressing himself
Tidy toys
Help make bed and tidy room
Tidy shoe rack
Bring in the post
Collect eggs from the chickens

Ages 5 – 7 years
Set the table
Clear the table
Make bed
Tidy bedroom
Wash himself (supervised)
Brush teeth independently once a day
Put out school uniform
Place family’s dirty laundry in basket
Empty lunch boxes after school
Deliver notes to neighbours
Feed the cats

Ages 8 – 10 years
Set the table
Clear the table
Make bed
Tidy bedroom
Put out school uniform
Take bikes out of shed
Put bikes away after school
Water plants in pots
Answer the phone
Run small errands – eg post a letter
Prepare school lunches
Pack dishwasher
Bath unsupervised
Brush teeth independently
Care for chickens
Be responsible for packing correct items for sport and school
Pack own suitcase when going on holiday (mum to check!)

As a child I remember confidently making any request of my parents and knowing that I didn’t have to work out their answer in advance. I knew that they would say no if necessary and would not feel guilty about denying my request. I can still remember how safe this made me feel. I realise now that they knew how to provide good boundaries. Firm boundaries help to develop self-discipline, a respect for authority and security for a child. Of course children like to test the boundaries – especially in a pubic place!

As parents we need to keep the boundaries firm but also remember to HALT – is your child Hungry, Anxious or Angry, Lonely or Tired – if so then cut him some slack. Or are any of the above applicable to you and are you acting reasonably? Maybe it is time for you to sit down and have a cup of tea and biscuit!

If you want to know more about The Parenting Course, click on this link to read my initial post about the course. Here is a link to the Holy Trinity Brompton website which has a video about the course www.relationshipcentral.org.

My daughter loves gifts! This week I discovered that gifts is her ‘love language’ and I have made an effort to connect with her through this. They weren’t extravagant – but thoughtful gifts such a rose at her table place, a wild apple picked on my walk home and a note in her lunch box. I already feel as if she is responding and that is exciting because she can be contrary and unpredictable at the best of times.

This was Week 4 of The Parenting Course and we continued to study The Five Love Languages which are affirming words, affectionate touch, time, small gifts and actions. Children need time and channels of communication are opened by spending one-to-one time with our children. It is difficult especially when you have more than one child but be deliberate and make time regularly for each child to be alone with you. As parents we are continually doing kind actions for our children which can be taken for granted but it is worth checking our attitude is willing and not allow resentment to creep in. Giving gifts for no reason is difficult because it feels materialistic but I am discovering that just because it is not my primary ‘love language’ doesn’t mean I should ignore it.

If you want to know more about The Parenting Course, click on this link to read my initial post about the course. Here is a link to the Holy Trinity Brompton website which has a video about the course www.relationshipcentral.org.

It is not rocket science but when your child is grizzling it normally means their ’emotional tank’ is running empty. We get frustrated and cross with the bad behaviour but that is the gauge showing the level of their tank and we need to step back and review. It’s time to refill the tank and hopefully keep it topped up. Children (and adults) receive love in five ways and these are called The Five Love Languages. They are affirming words, affectionate touch, time, small gifts and actions. The way we feel most loved may not be the way our child feels most loved so we need to discover their top ‘love language’. This week on The Parenting Course we focussed on words and touch. Praise and affirmation will build children up and I want to give specific encouragement to each of my children daily. Touch is easy when they are little or if it comes naturally to you but as they grow older or if you are not demonstrative then practice and be deliberate about giving cuddles. At least 12 hugs a day is recommended!

If you want to know more about The Parenting Course, click on this link to read my initial post about the course.

The challenges of being a stay-at-home mum and combating them – Ambition

‘I am sort of looking forward to the challenge again!’ This comment was from a friend when she returned to work and all my doubts resurfaced. On another occasion, I heard from an ex-colleague about the exciting conference that she had attended, and I felt so dull and unambitious. Here I am, just a stay-at-home mum. You will feel concerns about being ‘left behind’ and whether your career is stagnating and you will wonder if you will ever pick up your tattered job again.

Becoming a stay-at-home mum is like entering a foreign land where you learn a different culture and have a different set of priorities. You will be homesick for the familiar office days like that first sip of coffee as you quietly plan your working day. Give yourself time to grieve and be honest about how you feel and allow yourself time to adjust. Don’t see your working days through rose-tinted spectacles either – can you remember the awfulness of office politics?

I read somewhere the phrase: ‘If you work, who is paying the price and who is reaping the benefits?’ It helped me to reassess and focus on how I felt about myself and to recognise why I wanted to work. Every situation is different and some women need to work for financial reasons, some because they are running their own companies and some because their work is life-saving and essential. You can only look at your situation for yourself and I realised that for me, my family would pay a heavy price if I worked full-time. And who would benefit? The chancellor would certainly benefit, not only from my tax payments but also from those of the childminder. My children and husband would benefit slightly from a financial point of view, but it would be me who would truly benefit from the satisfaction of fulfilling my potential. I am not prepared to have my family pay the price for my own ambitions that can wait.

You can’t pour all your emotional energy and time into your children and a full-time job without threatening your own sanity and the stability of your family. Just because in the past women were ‘empowered’ to work does not mean it is a prison sentence of ‘emancipation’. We all need to find the balance that is right for us and work out our individual priorities. Just because you decide to focus on your family for a period of time, you still need to remember that is not your only skill and your other skills are still present. It can be just as much of a challenge to be at home as it is to work, especially if you are dealing with your own complex emotions and yet choosing to excel in this role.

I know it is troubling to recognise that technology will change and your field will develop while you are away, but there are refresher courses and you may even decide to change direction or career. Who said you have to remain in the same job forever? A friend decided to give up her nursing career for the next few years but was aware that she might not easily resume it. Her response is that she doesn’t know what the future holds and she now has freedom to develop her passion for gardening into a career.

It is important not to be so fearful that you hold onto your job at all costs. Don’t feel you have to stay on the treadmill because you are frightened of ‘What if…’ Rather consider, ‘What if I do decide to stay at home? What new doors will open? What rich experiences will I encounter?’