Books, Family - Adventure, featured

How to boost your child’s emotional intelligence with journalling

Journalling can be an effective tool for exploring your emotions – it can help you put things in perspective, understand and process your feelings, and focus on positives. At this time of year, the stationery shops are overflowing with gorgeous diaries. I can’t resist a fresh notebook for a fresh new year, even if I mainly use it to make lists.

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But keeping a diary doesn’t appeal to every child, so prompts are a really useful tool. I was shown The Happy Self Journal at an event and totally fell in love with it. It’s beautifully packaged, comes with some free stickers (who doesn’t love a sticker!), and it’s a fab bright yellow colour with a good strong cover. Those aren’t the important points though …

  • Firstly, it’s gender neutral. If we’re avoiding stereotyping girls and boys emotions, thats obviously important.
  • Secondly, you don’t have to work through it chronologically like a diary. It’s like a colouring book – flick through and the child can pick whatever activity that appeals. I guess if you wanted them to explore a particular theme, you could point out a few pages.
  • Thirdly, of course, it’s not overwhelming in quantity – just a few sentences is all that it takes so its also good for reluctant writers.

 

It says its aimed at 6-12 year olds, but I’d probably narrow that to a core of 7-10 year olds. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link https://happyselfjournal.com

I’m thrilled to have a copy to giveaway – just comment and share this post on Twitter tagging @lexi_rees and @HappySelf_. Competition is only open in the UK. Closing date 30 November 2018.

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#feautured, Family - Adventure, featured

NLP and Parenting

I’d heard of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) for adults, but I hadn’t considered its applicability for children. I thought I should find out a bit more so I’m delighted to invite NLP specialist Arantxa de Dios onto my blog today to share her thoughts. My take-away is that the term NLP makes it sound a lot scarier and more complicated than it actually is: NLP is basically the language of the brain, i.e. communication. That’s like parenting 101, but we all need tools to help us put common sense into practice, so over to her …

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Hi, I’m Arantxa. Parenting was, and continues to be, the most challenging thing I have ever done! Before starting my self-development journey, I would get cross and frustrated with my child and ultimately with myself. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t working: it wasn’t getting the result I wanted and often seemed to make things worse. And I didn’t like myself for what I was saying and doing, day in day out … but I didn’t know what else to do. I seem to be saying no all the time shouting and “losing it” focusing on the negatives and feeling guilty.

I wanted to become more confident and competent as a parent to feeling more in control and least of myself!  I wanted something better something more useful and sustainable for myself and my children. I wanted to be the best version of me. And I decided to become a life coach and then I trained as a neuro – linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapist practitioner.

With NLP which focuses on getting the results you want, especially using languages and behaviour to positively influence those around you. It had an immediate and major impact on my life for the better. I’m a calmer and happier Mum!!

Good communication skills are often overlooked or taken for granted and yet they are at the heart of positive, fulfilling relationships. How you relate to and communicate with your child makes all the difference!

NLP gives you methods for communicating effectively with your children, nurturing mutual respect, confidence and happiness in your relationships. It gives you ways to:

  • choose words that work to get great results, quickly and easily
  • use actions that help you understand your child better
  • change your thoughts in challenging situations, to find new solutions
  • be in a better mood more of the time, for everyone’s benefit
  • enjoy learning alongside your children on your parenting journey.

In parenting is very important you focus on YOUR needs, as well as the needs of your children. You are a key part of the relationship and have a major effect on the results you get.

YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU

When it comes to parenting, they are not the right answers, no universal solutions, no absolute truths. There is only the here and now of what is going to work for you and your children, moment by moment, on your parenting journey.  You are the expert on your family and your children. You are in the front line no matter how well intentioned the advice of others, it is you who must decide…and who must live with the consequences.

Parenting can be frustrating, overwhelming and sometimes utterly exhausting. But it can also be the most rewarding, inspiring and joyful experience too. I’m here to show you how you can make parenting easier, so you can feel confident and enjoy your precious time with your children.

Enjoy your Journey!

Arantxa De Dios

Transformational LIFE COACH, NLP & HYPNOTHERAPIST.

arantxa@arantxadedios.com

http://www.arantxadedios.com

WORKSHOP OPPORTUNITY

If you’re based in London, you might be interested in this workshop that Arantxa is running.

PARENTING WORKSHOP: POWERFUL NLP METHODS TO STAY ON TOP OF CHALLENGING SITUATIONS.

RESULT= YOU FEEL MORE IN CONTROL – CALMER – HAPPIER AND MORE POSITIVE.

More details here:

https://www.facebook.com/1945663648979600/posts/2141771592702137/

 

 

Family - Adventure, featured

Who will win the ultimate Halloween challenge?

Let’s get two seasonal heavy weights to go head to head for the ultimate Halloween battle … Pumpkins vs. Apples.

Challenge one: Halloween lanterns

 

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I grew up in Scotland where we carved our Halloween lanterns out of turnips, not pumpkins. Just to confuse things further, turnips are what the English (I now live down south) insist on calling swedes. Confused? Me too. If I do my groceries online I always end up with either 1 tiny swede/ turnip, or enough to feed a herd of cows. My dad, a farmer, considered turnips only fit for two things – cattle fodder (lucky cows, I love turnip) and Halloween lanterns.

I do like the lumpy shape of turnip lanterns, but they are way harder to carve, whilst the pumpkin arrives helpfully already hollowed out. One nil to the pumpkin.

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Challenge Two: the sweetness test

There’s only one way to do this properly. Pumpkin Pie vs. Toffee Apples. Turnip is not going to score highly in this category, unless you’re a cow of course. Both of these were a disaster. I’d share the recipes, but you wouldn’t thank me. My pumpkin pie (shop bought pastry and a tin of pumpkin puree) was pretty grim, and the toffee didn’t set on my apples, but in terms of a sweet, sticky, gooey mess, the toffee apples got the kids vote.

Does anyone actually know how to get the toffee to set all hard and shiny like when you buy them in a shop?

One all.

Challenge Three: other family activities

I’ve utterly failed to come up with any other fun activities involving pumpkins – any suggestions welcome! But who remembers bobbing for apples as a kid? Why did we think shoving our heads in a bucket of icy water was fun? I’m sure our parents thought it was HILARIOUS. Tried to get my kids to give it a go … “muuuuuuum, no waaaaay.”

That’s a no score draw.

But making apple juice is a great family activity. We are lucky enough to have a few apple trees in our garden. We bought a press a few years ago and make enough apple juice to freeze. Top tip – half a teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder in the bottle stops it going brown.

Apples just nudging ahead here.

So who wins the seasonal challenge?

It’s really no contest when you’ve seen the Trumpkin …

gDmiQb4(image from Reddit.com) 

Books, Family - Adventure, featured

Isolation Junction: a harrowing tale of abuse and survival

I normally blog about kids books and family activities, but domestic abuse is a topic that I feel I need to cover as it’s sadly part of the family reality for too many people. The author, Jennifer Gilmour, is very active in campaigning against domestic abuse. If you’ve been affected or would like to get involved, you can find her through the hashtag #isolationjunction.

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Although fictionalised, Isolation Junction is a very personal story and the first edition was full of raw emotion. This is the only time I’ve ever sought out a second edition of a book to read, but the topic is so important I wanted to see what had changed. This updated edition has been smoothed out and polished but, despite having read it before, it hasn’t lost its power and still made me cry.

The main changes are that it’s now chronological and all in third person, so it’s much easier to follow. It also fills in several gaps and is a stronger narrative as a result. It should be compulsory reading.

Well done to both the author and editor (the fabulous Emma Mitchell from Creating Perfection, who also edited Eternal Seas for me). I gave the first edition a 5* rating so this has to be a 6*.

Synopsis:

IJ - NEW COVER Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

 She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. But through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business. 

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t will she be able to do it? Will Tim help her? And will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?

Based on true events.

 

About the author:

 IJ - Jennifer Gilmour

Born in the North East, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children.  In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years.  A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write this first novel. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.  

Links:

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com

Facebook; www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook 

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour 

Instagram; https://www.instagram.com/authorjennifergilmour/

 

Books, Family - Adventure, featured

The most helpful guide to an amazingly tidy kids room

If you’re like me, half term is over and the house is in utter chaos.

Not that long ago, everyone was Kon-Mari-ing their houses and folding socks into sushi rolls and checking if their frying pans sparked joy. I had to try it. My review of Marie Kondo’s book is below, and I gave it five stars, but that was before I tried it with the kids ….

Me: Can we throw out this broken Kinder egg toy?

Teenage DS (with just a hint of sarcasm): No. It sparks joy.

Me: What about this puzzle with a missing piece?

DS: No. I once did that puzzle when I was three. It brings back happy memories.

Me: What can I throw out?

DS: I don’t like this sock. (Waggles foot). It feels crunchy.

Me: Have you tried washing it?

For this type of challenge, you need a no-nonsense system. Less zen maybe, but something that works. I’m a big fan of Jules and her approach to decluttering. So I’ll hand over to her …

It’s Child’s Play:  A Nervous Parent’s Ten-Point Guide to Decluttering Kids Bedrooms

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Can’t put off decluttering your child’s bedroom any longer?

Daunted by the inevitable crying, door slamming and shrieks of “That’s so unfair!”   – and that’s just from your partner?

Take heart!  My ten-point guide takes you from start to finish – without breaking up your happy home or losing your mind in the process.

Point One: Kids Stuff Gets Old Quickly

Children outgrown stuff at warp speed.

Clothes they wore last year are now only fit for Teddy, while the toy they couldn’t live without six months ago lies forgotten under the bed.

It quickly adds up.  So, you need to get clear of what is and isn’t relevant to their lives now.

Anything that isn’t is out of the door.

Point Two: One Room/Many functions

Children bedrooms are often mini “homes within a home”.

One, possibly small or shared, space may need to offer a sleeping area, a quiet place to study, room to play, storage for clothes, toys and books, and somewhere to entertain their friends.

It’s a big ask. Make it easier by checking if anything – sports equipment for example – be stored elsewhere.

Point Three:  Involve Your Child

It may seem easier to “just do it yourself” – a bit like cleaning out the hamster cage.

But get your child onboard and you are more likely to see lasting results.

Older children especially won’t appreciate you sending their stuff to the charity shop.

Plus, you’ll be teaching them an important life skill.

Point Four:  What’s Your Problem?

Understanding the problem is halfway to finding a solution. So get clear from the start.

Had your child moved on from their Barbie phase – but their room is still full of tiny pink outfits?

Is their bookshelf filled with books they’ve outgrown, while the latest Harry Potter sits on the floor?

Do school days get off to a grumpy start with a game of Hunt the Homework?

Point Five:  What Are (Your Childs) Goals?

Emphasising what they will gain, rather than what you lose, can make a massive difference to attitude. What do they really want?

A peaceful place to curl up and read?

Hosting sleepovers without having to lie their brother trashed their room?

Or having the floor space to set up their Scalextric?

The aim is for a room filled with stuff that is in current use, that allows them to use the room how they wish.

Point Six: Pre-sort.  Do This On Your Own!

Start by sorting all their stuff into “like-with-like” – books, clothes, Barbies, cars, lego, whatever.  Don’t squander precious time or good humour doing this with your child.

If you and your child have already decided they have outgrown Stickle Bricks, My Little Pony or pony books (See Point Four) put these to one side to take to the charity shop.  No need for further discussion!

Point Seven:  It’s Decision Time!  Do This With Your Child

Deciding what makes the “keep” pile can be an emotional minefield.  Dodge meltdowns over whether Mr Potato Head stays or goes with a pre-agreed set of criteria.

Working one pre-sorted category (ie board games) at a time, ask:

  • Have you played with/read/used it in the last six months?
  • Does it fit?
  • Is it in usable condition?
  • Does it have sentimental value? (Panda, I’m looking at you)
  • How much can you fit in the cupboard/on the shelf? Choose your favourites. (And no, they can’t all be your favourite.)

Point Eight:  A Place For Everything…

You will now be left with things that your child plays with, wears or read, and it’s time to put it all away.

A place for everything and everything in its place might be Old Skool, but it’s got a lot of wear in it yet. So find a home for each category of stuff that you sorted and decluttered

Stuff should be stored at a child height.  If they need a pogo stick to reach it, it will end up on the floor.

Point Nine: Containers And Labels

By now you are probably sick of the whole project.  But if you can muster strength to store stuff in tubs or use dividers in drawers, this will really pay off.

It also creates a natural limit to how many little plastic gifts from Birthday Bags your child can keep without making you the bad guy.

For maximum benefit, stick on some big clear labels. Picture labels are good for young children, maybe they could draw their own?

Point Ten:  Keep It Going!

Result! You and your offspring are beaming with pride at the state of the room, with your child convinced it was their idea all along.

But if you don’t want to be back to square one by Bonfire Night try these tips

Implement a daily “pick up”.  Ten minutes with a timer – race each other – will keep things from unravelling 

Put regular mini “declutter dates” in the diary, three or four times a year.  If you do it regularly, it won’t be a massive chore.

And finally, parents – lead by example!  It’s the only way.    

 

Thanks Jules! I told you she’s good. I’ve recommended her Facebook group before but here it is again make me clutter free

So here’s my review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo.

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Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo challenges everything we have been taught since childhood about tidying. She believes that “little and often” doesn’t work. Her method is simple: a thorough discarding must be done first, in a very particular order. Only then can you look at storage solutions.

Although she admits to be obsessive about tidying, her self-depreciating style and quirky anecdotes make this an easy and enjoyable read.

There are very few references to feng shui in the book, but an underlying influence is visible. Once finished, your wardrobe will have the dark colours on the left, and the lighter fabrics on the right. This is not negotiable under her method. She can even make your socks happy – apparently they don’t like being rolled up into balls – they like to relax in sushi style rolls.

Particularly helpful are her techniques for discarding items that we would normally struggle to part with – gifts for example. If you accept that the purpose of a gift was to be given, then under her approach it has fulfilled its purpose, so you can let it go without guilt.

Similarly, an unworn but beautiful pink sweater has served its purpose of teaching me that pink is not my colour, so I can let it go.

One criticism is that everything discarded is thrown out – an acknowledgement of recycling options would be more environmentally friendly.

This is the decluttering equivalent of a diet plan book. With over three million copies sold, and huge facebook fan groups, for many people (including me, apart from the rolled up socks) it clearly works.