Gratitude…

I LOVE PRACTISING GRATITUDE! I love the HUGE effects it can have with such a relatively short (but consistent!) practice.

Harvard Medical School say

‘The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.’ (You can read more about it here – https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier)

I know that for most of us this is a strange and unusual time. There is so much of our lives (as they used to be) that is out of our control, and for a lot of us (ME!!!) that is really hard to deal with. Imagine then you are 5, or 6, or 7, or 8, or even 9 or 10, and you don’t have the emotional intelligence that you have learned by your adult years. You are feeling this world of ‘weirdness’ which you are unable to give a label – you haven’t learnt yet that the funny feeling in your tummy is a nervousness at all the change that is happening, you haven’t learnt that the way that you’re being grumpy, unkind and uncooperative with those you love is because you’re frightened of the negative talk around you or the feeling of simply not feeling like yourself and not knowing what to do with that could be because life is so different to how it should be??

I imagine there are children in most households right now experiencing some or all of these feelings. And unlike us, they are most probably unable to recognise why they are behaving as they are or how to fix it… for me that is where PRACTISING GRATITUDE comes into its own. There are lots of wonderful ideas on the internet and in books about how this could be done. A favourite of mine is an evening journal (and there are some brilliant children’s ones on the market!) which gives your child a time to reflect on all the positives in their lives, and if done in the evening, gives them a chance to think about positive and happy things before they drift off to sleep.

Some other great ideas I found and used in the past are…

A Gratitude Jar

  • Take one jar and decorate however you wish – I know in this house it would be covered in glitter or sequins! You could use stickers, or ribbons, or photos – anything that makes it special to your Confi-kid.
  • Every day the aim is to write down 3 things you are grateful for that day on 3 slips of paper and pop them into the jar – they can be as simple as ‘I am grateful (or you could use thankful) for having my favourite breakfast cereal this morning’
  • Whenever you or your Confi-kid is feeling a bit low, you will soon have a jar of reasons to smile again!

Gratitude Prompts

Gratitude prompts are a great way to get started,

  • I’m grateful for three things I hear:
  • I’m grateful for three things I see:
  • I’m grateful for three things I smell:
  • I’m grateful for three things I touch/feel:

Gratitude Letter or Email

Write a hand-written letter, or email, to a person you are particularly grateful to have in your life and whom you are probably really missing right now. Be detailed. Express all the wonderful qualities about this person, and how they personally have affected your life for the better.

Do it unexpectedly. This exercise is guaranteed to make the recipient smile!

And finally… the one I need your help with…

CONFI-KIDS GRATITUDE TREE

At the moment, we have a tree located on the racecourse which we set up for Easter – I am going to turn this into my GRATITUDE TREE.

I would love you and your Confi-Kids to write either letters of gratitude (or fill in the template below) and bring them to the Confi-Kids Gratitude tree and tie them on.  It would be amazing, if we could fill the tree with notes of GRATITUDE! Message me a picture when you’re there so we can track it growing!

Life is a Rollercoaster…

Anyone else feeling this at the moment?

I feel like one minute I’m totally in control, feeling grateful for the pause, enjoying
the enforced family time, and the next I wake up a gibbering wreck. And I can’t
fathom why I’m so up and down… but then I guess that is part of this crazy
tumultuous time – it is like NOTHING we have ever experienced, so our reactions are
going to be the same.

So I guess it is the same for our Mini kids – they are so super resilient and I spend a
lot of time thinking mine are totally ok! Enjoying having two parents home at the
same time, which is something that is very rare in our house, enjoying not having the
usual daily grind, but then they too this week have had days where they haven’t
wanted to get off the sofa, or out of their pjs… and I think that definitely there are
some days where the world is feeling a bit overwhelming for them too.

But what is normal for them is the feeling of an unknown emotion. So much of how
children behave is down to how their emotions are rolling… it takes a long time to
‘learn’ that a certain emotion is making you behave in a certain way – I mean there
are many days where I still don’t know this! But I think often as adults we are quick
to judge a child with our own grown up, developed, emotional understanding, when
perhaps the emotion is just too big and unknown for them in that moment and they
react in a way which we perceive as annoying, disruptive or bad.

Maybe now, with this totally unknown time, it gives us a greater understanding of
that. Well for me it does, one moment I am happy Mummy dancing around the
kitchen enjoying their company, and the next, without any obvious prompting, I am
shouty Mum, telling them to stop calling my name and just sit quietly! In hindsight
my emotions are bubbling so close below the surface… emotions I’ve not had to deal
with before… well not to this extent anyway and the trick for me, perhaps lots of us,
is to figure out how to cope with this. Perhaps our Confi-kids can teach us?

And by cope, I don’t mean wish that emotion away – just as I wouldn’t want to tell a
child that the emotion they are feeling isn’t relevant or isn’t important, I/WE need to
understand that that isn’t going to work for me either. So how am I dealing with it
(and I know I have to deal with it or learn to cope with it, otherwise I am not going
to be the calm/balanced parent I feel I need to be right now!)
Well that is still a
work in progress… everywhere on social media I am reading that I need to have ‘self-
care time’, but in reality, in my days at the moment that feels hard to find. And what
is ‘self care time’ for me? Usually its nipping away for an hour to have my nails made
pretty… can’t do that?!? So my aim this week is to find that peace, somehow. I’ve
started moving more – not a huge amount, but a couple of times a day I have been
doing a quick 10 min HIIT workout – that actually gets my happy endorphins
pumping and so far seems to be helping.

I don’t for one second believe I am going to be a calm Supermum all the time. I have
never been this and I am pretty certain that quarantine for 3 weeks with 3 children
and a husband is not going to lead me to it, but I hope that I can reach a point where
scary Mum is less.

I think at the end of the day, we need to remember that this is a WIDLY UNUSUAL
time – in fact it is like make believe isn’t it. I often have my biggest wobbles when I
look at the window, for one minute I am enjoying the peace, looking at the blossoms
waiting to bloom (Spring is my favourite season!), and the next I am overcome with
emotion at the bizarreness of the situation – the emptiness of our usually busy
world, like something out of an apocalypse film, and then the thoughts overtake me.
I’ve got better at not letting this last very long – my trick in those moments is to find
something else to do which takes me out of my brain – usually I am shaken out of it
seconds later by a shouting child demanding my time and focus. Life really is a
Rollercoaster, and I guess as Ronan said ‘we just have to ride it’


So focus on those babies and how simple life can be if we let it – give them your
thoughts rather than this scary world and hopefully we are all going to come out of
this unscathed!

I read this quote by Matt Haig today and thought it apt…

‘These are not normal times so don’t have normal expectations of yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over how you work from home or homeschool. WE are in the middle of a global crisis. Allow yourself to just exist rather than achieve.’

Day 10 in the Isolation House…

And we’re surviving, I think!?!

We are beginning to find our groove – not a lot of official ‘school work’ is being done
but lots of learning all the same! Learning how to survive all in the same house
together again whilst finding our own ways to have our own time, learning how to
juggle the million and one emotions that we are trying to deal with on a daily basis,
learning that its ok to not be ok on some days and learning that we are not going to
have all the answers anytime soon – so learning how to be patient and be more in
the moment than we have ever HAD TO BE in our lives. This last one is exceedingly
tricky… I am a planner… I like control and this situation has taken ALL OF THAT away,
but actually being forced into the situation is perhaps what was needed for me!


We’ve spent a lot of time bouncing on the trampoline (well the children… that is not
a successful activity for me!!) and finding tigers around our house – have you
discovered this function on google yet?



I’ve spent a lot of time refereeing the fighting… (how many days in a row is it ok to
open the wine at 3.30pm?)… but what I have noticed is that in the moments that they are not screeching at each other, they ARE learning to play together again –
something I wasn’t sure I’d see again for a few years. Our school holidays are
generally spent with 30 other children – so they very rarely have the need to play
and be bored as just them. We have also spent the majority of the time outside this
week – and why wouldn’t we. This is the best weather we have had in AGES and how
WONDERFUL that it has coincided with being forced to stay home. They’ve built
dens on the trampoline, made potions, built fairy gardens and as I type they are
washing their toy animals/barbies in bowls of fairy liquid and water. I am beginning
to like this giant PAUSE we have had enforced on us. I’ve often joked that I need a
pause button – and maybe this is it – our reset? It still feels like the day runs away
with us and I don’t get all the JOBS done – but I am finding I am far less concerned
about that… I know I don’t have to dash off to do something else tomorrow so the
washing that didn’t get done today can go in tomorrow, that cupboard I had told
myself I was going to sort can even wait until next week. It’s quite a lovely feeling.


I am still so worried about the number of parent’s worrying that they’re not doing
enough ‘teaching or home schooling’ or not doing it right. There is no right or wrong
way… please, please, please do not worry about it. Your babies will BE OK!!!!!
It dawned on me this morning that in our crazy busy lives, so much of the learning
the kids are doing now, is essential life stuff that we don’t have time to cover when
we’re in our ‘normal’ daily routine. We ordered some vegetable seeds today and
when they arrive the kids and I will be planting them – tending to them and watching
them grow, learning the whole time. Yesterday they were lifting bricks from the
garden (whilst I soaked up the sun) and discovering worms – so we turned it into a
minibeast lesson and made lists and tallies of what they were finding, today we
made THANK YOU posters to display in our windows for those key workers still going
out to work every day and discussed all the roles of the different key workers and why it was essential that they kept going – another lesson!! So I repeat my message
from last week, try not to get worried or feel anxious about the ‘home school’ battle,
if they don’t want to sit down at the table and ‘learn’ that’s ok. That’s not a failure.
They will be learning in ways you can never imagine.


I also know there are so many of us trying to work from home – which feels
impossible when being interrupted by the constant ‘Mummy can you just… Daddy
please can you get that ball… etc’ so below are some of my favourite activities and
Instagram accounts you could set them up with to give you time to work (or time to
enjoy a cup of coffee in peace!)…


Playdough – easiest recipe with store cupboard ingredients is:
1 cup of flour, ¼ cup of salt, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, food colouring
Mix flour and salt and add boiling water (with food colouring and vegetable oil mixed
in) slowly whilst mixing to form a dough, add it slowly – if it gets too sticky add more
flour and salt! Enjoy!


Bubble paint pictures – Mix up a little paint, some water and a touch of dishwashing
liquid in a shallow dish (like a roasting dish or baking tray) and get kids to blow
bubbles through a straw, or mix quickly if you don’t have a straw to make bubbles.
Press paper down to create images – you could have multi colours set up and make a
little conveyor belt to get super creative!


Cutting/Ripping and sticking – use old magazines, newspapers, greeting cards or
torn up tissue/wrapping paper and use pva with paintbrushes or glue sticks and
create masterpieces. You could either draw an outline of something for them to stick
stuff into or let their minds run away!


Pasta threading (or cheerios if pasta is limited!) – String or ribbon and pasta –
create wind chimes, or jewellery or vamp up some shoe laces. Thread the pasta on
and then paint if you like – or don’t paint to avoid mess!

Indoor Scavenger Hunts –

  • Colour hunt – Different coloured ‘base stations’ set up somewhere (I use
    coloured plates) and ask them to find as many things around the house as
    they can of those colours and return them to the plate
  • Number hunt– ‘can you find 3…’ etc or ‘can you find something with 4 legs…
    Outdoor Scavenger Hunts in the garden – There are SO many great ones online! Im
    going to make a CONFI-KIDS one in the next couple of days too so keep watching!

Outdoor Scavenger Hunts in the garden – There are SO many great ones online! Im
going to make a CONFI-KIDS one in the next couple of days too so keep watching!


Ice Excavation – in a bowl freeze some toys – I usually use our toy dinosaurs as we
have a million of them – but you could use LOL dolls – anything hard… put them in
water in a bowl and put bowl in freezer overnight… kids use plastic excavation tools
(knives and forks) to try and free the frozen toys – or pipettes of warm water to help
if it gets too frustrating!

(You can jazz this up by making jelly and hiding toys in the jelly – kids need to find
toys, free them and wash and dry them!).


Doctors surgery – Get out the bandages, sticky plasters and ice cream stick splints –
find them some patients – we’ve used stuffed toys, hard toy animals, Barbie dolls,
dinosaurs…. Daddy(?!) and let them cure all the people in their waiting room!! My
kids play this independently for AGES!!!


Instagram accounts I LOVE for ideas

@fiveminutemum – loads of brilliant ‘educational’ activities that take 5 mins to set
up and which your children may spend ages playing with. I have her book now too
and it is FAB!
@mumsideashed
@letthemplayinpuddles
@earlyyearsoutdoor

I also follow #shallweplaytoday which has loads of ideas!

Social media is an amazing resource if you use it properly! Use it to find the activities
and take with a pinch of salt how ‘in control’ and ‘perfect’ the rest of it pretends to
be!


GOOD LUCK AND STAY SAFE!

School Closures, Self Isolation and Your Kids… DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!

My thoughts after 3 days…

We’ve been in isolation for 3 days now – my middle Confi-kid developed a
cough (which I’m sure is just a cold), but we followed the Government advice and
battened down our hatches. Since day 1 (yes only 2 days!) my thoughts on how
to approach this have massively changed and I just wanted to share them with
you, in the hope they may offer some kind of help?

When we realised our Confi-kids were not going to be at school sooner than we
expected I went into a bit of a panic. Felt like I needed to create something that
would add structure to our days – keep them busy and off their screens and
make sure that they didn’t miss out on anything… but this was being fuelled in
my mind with a constant sense of the unknown – with both mine and my
husbands work, would Easter Club still be running, how would I approach the
situation if it was not, have we got enough food to last isolation, are our families
ok, would we be ok financially with everything being cancelled… all those adult
stresses and worries we are all feeling at the moment. But it was these that were
feeding my NEED to have everything super organised and I was losing sight of
what would actually work best for US, for OUR FAMILY.

I don’t know about you guys but my Instagram feed and Facebook page are
inundated with ideas about how to ‘Home school’ your Confi-kids during the
school closure (most of which I’ve loved and saved loads and will share some
with you as the days/weeks go on), or images of colour coded timetables,
educational resources to use, lots of advice on keeping structure in your day –
and it is brilliant – a social community pulling together to help each other out in
times of need – BUT… as I woke with slightly more clarity today after those
tough decisions by the Government yesterday followed by tough decisions by the
Confi-kids team – I realised that my constant scrolling on social media, soaking
up these ideas and timetables and structures were not only NOT HELPING me,
but actually adding to my WORRY and STRESS, and I had a long discussion with
myself!

• I know that for ME, trying to teach my own babies in the last 2 days whilst
trying to get the house ready for weeks of kids at home, and dealing with
the worry of the unknown was a bad idea.
• I know that for ME, a structure and ‘normal’ lessons DON’T work!
• I reminded myself that the kids are not going to suffer if I extend the
weekend and pretend it starts today! They will be OK if I let them stay in
their PJs as they’ve been requesting – and actually its ok if I stay in mine
too!

I realised that this is GIFTED TIME. I can use this time to do all the crafts
and games I’ve wanted to do for ages (THEY WILL LEARN ENGLISH AND
MATHS IN THE PROCESS!!!).

I can use this time to teach them the invaluable life skills that I feel I never
have time to when life is normal – I am always rushing and do it all myself
as showing them how to do it would take too long – but as of today they
will take turns to help with the following:

  • Empty and load the dishwasher
  • Cook dinner / prepare other meals
  • Feed the animals
  • Help with the washing

I will get the resources from school out – I plan to make a tray/ bowl / space for
each child with the books in, some pencils, colouring pens/pencils and some
blank paper and leave it accessible for the kids. If they’re bored or looking lost I
will direct them to it and sit with them if they need me too, or they may find it
themselves, but over the next few days/weeks I am NOT going to force it- I am
not going turn it into a battle. No one needs that at the moment. And of course –
its ok if next week all of this changes again and I decide we do need more
structure – THAT’S OK TOO!

BUT – this approach does not work for everyone – just as structure doesn’t work
for me – for you it might be the way forward…

I guess what I am trying to say is, this is scary and unknown and a situation no
one has faced before… so TAKE TIME. Think about how you can make it best
work for you. Don’t worry what your friend, neighbour, people on Instagram are
doing… figure out how life will work best in your house and don’t feel like you
MUST make all the decisions and have all the timetables RIGHT NOW. It seems
we could be in this situation for a while… take it slowly and don’t burn out right
away.

Make a timetable/don’t make a timetable / make one and don’t stick to it –
whatever works for you!

Stock up on coffee and wine, download some good podcasts, find some good
books, let the children watch their screens, pray for SUN so we can go outside,
smell the spring flowers and try to find peace.

For us all to survive this unsettled and unusual time we need be calm and find
happiness where and when we can. Our children will benefit from this more than
English and Maths lessons.