Be positive

I’m currently sat in a Macdonald’s in some random area of London that I couldn’t even tell you where it was if I wanted to! Thank the tech gods for Google maps.

I am here waiting to start my first day of a Positive Discipline Parent Educator course and I’m incredibly excited. Having Leo and wanting to raise him as a confident, healthy and most of all, content person led me down the positive discipline route. Whilst it incredibly hard to put into practice because it goes against all discipline methods I have grown up with, it really is the most rewarding form of effort I have ever known.

Whilst I am far from perfect, I see some scandalous examples of discipline wherever I go and I want to do what I can to change that. It was whilst reading one of many articles, that I stumbled across a lady who had this qualification against her name and the investigation began from there.

I firmly believe if all of us learned to parent in this manner, the world would be a completely different place. I am even applying the methods to my team at work. Now THAT is tough.

It just makes sense: be respectful ALL the time, even when you are setting boundaries. Be kind, love each other and show everyone that you love them, even when they are having a tough time. Don’t exclude them from your love just because they are upset. Oh yeah, and communicate, talk through frustrations and find a solution together.

Simple

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Brilliant realisation 

It dawned on me recently, that many of the failings we face during daily life interactions, could be solved if only parents took the time to learn how to parent well.

Pretty much every single thing you learn on your quest to positively parent is applicable to how you interact with every person you come across. 

Respect, empowerment, belonging, self belief, positivity, problem solving and team work, to name a few. 

Can you imagine how the world would look if positive parenting was of the highest priority to everyone? 

Brilliant 

Promoting independence 

This has to be one of the toughest things I have faced in my parenting journey. In my learning with positive parenting, I have realised that we don’t empower Leo enough. I think the main reason is that he is more than happy to have everything done for him, a lot of toddlers demand they do it themselves.

This past week or more, I have made a point of expecting more of him. I have taken the time to teach him how to help load and unload the dishwasher, load and unload the washing and tumble dryer, take his own trousers and socks off, put on and take off his t-shirts (with some assistance due to his 7 year old sized head) he’s also learning how to wash himself.

To say it has been tough is a massive understatement. To remain calm in the face of screaming and sometimes hitting/biting frustration is a challenge. To remember to make consistent positive connections to him as well as providing encouragement and standing fast on my faith that he can do something, so that he doesn’t learn to give in at the first sign of a struggle, pulls on every single one of my heart strings and every ounce of my patience too.

We have gone from being able to get out of the house in a few simple minutes, to a full on 45 min session of options, encouragement and flat out refusal. It’s soooooo exhausting, I can totally see why people take the easy option of not doing this, or worse, losing their temper.

However, what this process provides a child with is priceless. They learn resiliency, a much required life skill. They feel empowered by their daily achievements,  they learn to believe in themselves, they learn to trust their caregivers and it strengthens the bond as they know that they have faith in them. They feel part of the family: heard and important. 

It’s not easy, but I know it’s worth it. It wouldn’t be me I was letting down if I didn’t give it my all. 

Oh how time flies

I haven’t written a post since September, work and life have just been getting in the way.  I started a new job in July and it is really consuming me.  What I thought when I returned to work after my maternity, was that I didn’t enjoy being there because the company had changed so much in the year that I was out and they had basically modelled it around me not being there.  Whilst that in itself is highly illegal as far as maternity rights goes, who can really face that battle?

Anyway, that behind me, what I now realise is that isn’t all that it was. I actually thoroughly dislike being in the corporate world now. I hate that it takes me away from my child, I hate that I have to interact with negative bullies on a daily basis, rather than with my amazing child and husband and I just hate how much of my time and energy is wasted on people who don’t deserve it.

I fully intend to rectify this.  During my journey through motherhood, I have gained a massive interest in child development and positive parenting.  So much so that I would like to progress with a career in this path.  Whilst this is going to be a long process,  the start of this is a Parent Educator course that I will be doing in January with the Positive Discipline association.  This will enable me to teach other parents how to adopt this process and make their life and their children’s lives something special and remove the negativity and frustration from their day to day.  It just works, it works so well I don’t understand why this approach isn’t adopted more.. In fact, I say that, but I do understand why it isn’t adopted more: People are inherently lazy, anything that requires more than no effort is dismissed and there is no denying it is hard work. (but insanely rewarding)

I am also studying as many child development courses as I can, whilst they don’t carry mainstream accreditation, they are from registered universities and I feel they will give me the insight I need to decide if I would like to attempt to pursue a degree in this field. My current feeling is something neuroscience based, my limitations are finances, so this is something that is a long way down the line for me but doesn’t mean I can’t pursue this career path in the meantime.

I have been seeing a psychotherapist for the last few months to help me deal with my crippling self doubt, whilst I wouldn’t go into details on here for many reasons, I feel that too many people shy away from repairing themselves in this way.  It will only benefit me when it comes to something as big as a career change and also, it will benefit how my child sees life and motivation and it is this that drives me daily.  I want him to accept who he is and live with peace in his soul, to do that, I need to do that.

Heartbreaking 

The one thing I am forever grateful for, is the approach to parenting that Tom and I have taken. I appreciate our experience is incredibly limited to one little bundle of joy, but when we use the techniques we learn about every day on other children, it basically never fails. Calm, respectful interactions where clarity and confidence is key to peaceful and positive interactions: even when there is something that poses a less enjoyable learning opportunity.

We were out at the zoo yesterday and Leo was merrily downing some fruit pouches whilst being thoroughly engaged by some ducks that aren’t actually an ‘attraction’ but he loves them. Tom and I were Sat at the benches whilst he chatted away and then I sadly had to witness something that is still haunting my soul today. There were a family with twin boys, about Leo’s age and one of the little boys desperately wanted to play on the grass in the middle of the section where we were and the mother was having none of it. They were both on lead reins and this child was absolutely distraught, screaming and struggling to breath: he was that upset. She physically dragged him along and up by the reins during this protest and when her husband asked what was going on, she stated that he was just being stupid and wanted to get to the grass. Queue the shattering of my already pained heart. 

So they swapped twins and the father was less rough housing but the child’s woeful screams could be heard for some time. The other twin was clearly distressed by this also but was turning insular and walking along looking at the floor.

Now, I know one should not judge by a single event out of context. However, in this case I judge that as bullying and unacceptable. How the fuck would she feel if someone treated her like that. How would we as spectators have handled it if her husband was dragging her along by a bag strap and calling her stupid?! The kid just wanted to play on the grass ffs, not a busy motorway.

I wish I knew what to do in those situations, I think if she had been a lone parent then I would have offered to help, but how the hell do you intervene in that kind of situation? It seems to be something that society accepts, the total and utter disregard for a child’s place in the world and utter, shameful lack of respect. I know full well that she wouldn’t have been receptive if I had approached her, should that have stopped me? 

Above everything else, I want to be able to give her the gift of enjoying her children. Of seeing their little acts of what she perceives as defiance as being an act of their journey through brain development and freedom of choice, of being interested and engaged in the world around them. She is missing the opportunity to be absorbed by the little things we now overlook as adults. She may think the tigers are amazing, but at that very moment in time that little boy wanted to run on the wet grass and most likely roll around in it.. He might get wet, he might get dirty.. So what? As long as you go home if they get cold, who the fuck cares? Will the world stop spinning if you spend some entry money and look at grass the whole time? No, it won’t. What might happen is that you experience a magical moment with the little gift that you have right there in front of you.

I want to find a way to be better in an instance, put my fear aside and do something positive for that one little child and his scared brother and potentially give a tired and lost woman a new magic to enjoy.. 

Just stop looking 

Purely unintentionally, I have managed to remove my time obsession. My fitbit strap keeps breaking, to the point that it has bored me and I can’t be bothered to replace it. This means, no more sleep tracker and no more clock watching.

I’m obsessed with time, I absolutely hate being late and I have it in my head I have to have 8 hours sleep a night or I break. I used to find myself getting stressed at night because I couldn’t fit everything in before I had to go to bed at 9.30. If Leo woke me in the night, the first thing I would do is check what time it was and calculate how much that will impact my day if I can’t get back to sleep, and to top it all off, I would always check my sleep tracker first thing in the morning.

I now don’t have the means to fulfil the above impulses, so I simply don’t care. I don’t feel any more tired than before, that’s for sure. For some reason, I haven’t replaced checking my watch with checking other clocks either. It’s very odd. I always thought the problem was lack of time when it was actually a weird obsession I had created for myself.

Horror

This morning I had the unexpected opportunity to test out what I had learnt during our baby first aid classes, many, many moons ago. I was changing Leo’s nappy whilst he was playing with what I incorrectly assumed was just a screwdriver end. He had found a screw somewhere (I didn’t know what it was at the time)

He made an horrendous noise and then stopped breathing and was clearly panicking. I whipped him up and turned him over and hit him hard enough between the shoulder blades to bring up his heart. I had no idea what was in there, so I just kept hitting him (that sounds unnecessarily mean) with the heel of my hand until he started to cry. Crying is good, crying means breath and life! I then cuddled him so hard he was probably hindered in his breathing once again.

That was a massive wake up call. During the process I had a glimpse of losing my angel and I have to keep pushing that out of my mind for fear of implosion with horror and guilt. I had become complacent in ensuring I know what he has hold of, especially when he is on his back. It is not something I ever need to witness again.

Would I have done the same without first aid training? I’d imagine so, I may not have tipped him up at the same time but I reckon I may well have done. I have no idea what I would have done if it hadn’t come up, probably legged it around to my neighbours house as she is a paediatrician and her husband is a nurse. Thankfully, I didn’t need to find out.

In the blink of an eye 

Our little boy is 2! I haven’t blogged for ages either, it’s just been a whirlwind of everything recently.. Changing jobs, studying for my wellness coaching, birthday parties and now: poorly baby. Coughing his head off so time for some blogging!

He just gets more and more amazing as every day goes by. The capability of children just blows my mind. They are these wonderfully receptive, uninhibited little bodies and they are just amazing. 

I am so glad we made the choice to be respectful parents, there is never a time that approach has
 let us down, and I really feel it’s worth the hours and hours of reading and the hard work it takes to not default to the easy reaction, to not give in to your triggers.. Especially when you are shattered and feel bad for leaving them all the time.

We have been in the wars this weekend. New wellies = inability to judge how high feet need to come when running at full kilter. He had his first experience of properly scratching his knees, and it won’t be his last. He fell flat on his face at nursery and got a nose bleed, that won’t be his last either! 

I am gutted that I didn’t get a single picture of his birthday or the cakes I made! That’s basically unheard of for me but I was so busy running around and Tom was being Leo’s comfort blanket for the first couple of hours. It went well though. Tents, balloons, food, water and chalk, what more do you need! 

So glad 

We decided some time ago, that we wanted Leo to go to forest school. Our reasons at that point were that we wanted Leo to be able to run free and feral as much as possible, because who doesn’t love being filthy and running around! 

We found one that was a little out of our way, so we couldn’t go for it logistically until either Tom or our found a new job or adjusted our hours. I have a new job, we got a second car and Tom has had more working from home days authorised, which meant we are good to go. 

When we went to meet the team, I was absolutely blown away. They handle with children in all thewya I want. Their approach is that of trust and respect, everything is explained and discussed and no matter what occurs, it is a positive learning opportunity for them. They do home cooked, proper vegan food every day and easily accommodate refined sugar free requests. They only use reusable wipes rather than disposable and just basically match all I can dream of. My only regret is that he can’t go for all of his sessions! 

Children of all ages mix together and it’s just so idilic, I’m so excited. 

He had his first settle in morning on Friday, Tom stayed and Leo basically legged it off to our play and didn’t come back until food time. Everything Tom experienced whilst he was there was so refreshing, even when there was a disagreement between clan members, it was takeout and handled in the exact way that we want. As much as I am dreading the thought of having to do difficult drop offs, I now feel that it will become a positive learning experience for Leo. 

Whilst his other nursery is brilliant, it isn’t forest school and I feel so bad that he is palmed off at nursery every day for long hours, I feel considerably better knowing that he will now have such hugely positive people to help him along. 

F%&k off with the labels 

Leo is naturally cautious with new situations. He likes to take it all in before he decides whether or not he is interested. If he is, he’s right in the thick of it. If he’s not, he’s not. 

In today’s society, there seems to be a stigma around the word shy, it seems that it is something you should be ashamed of, something you should rid yourself of by immersion and forced exposure. 

We were at a children’s party on Saturday and as expected, it was pretty frenetic. One of our more exuberant ‘friends’ was there and he came over to me and with the most pitying look and tone, ask me if Leo was OK, is he just shy? 

Mamma bear fury kicked in and he was lucky I didn’t slap the stupid out of him, there is a turbulent history that we share (I think he’s a total cock) so this won’t have helped my response a great deal. I found myself defending Leo, like there was something wrong with him. This did not help my mood. 

The fact that I let some short sighted neanderthal back me into doing something that then makes feel like I have an issue with any element of my wonder angel, infuriates me more than anything. I feel like I have let him down. 
I don’t like people labelling my child for something that is just him and nothing to be ashamed of, the thought of that hurting him is like a knife through the heart.