Knock loose thoughts that spoil the magic

Bad mood can be reached in seconds. But does a mom want it? How to knock thoughts loose? Thoughts that can spoil a sunny day, a romantic evening, a relaxing afternoon? I call these thoughts – laundry thought – and here you will learn, from my perspective, about the hidden danger in these seemingly harmless mental wanderings.

What are “laundry thoughts” and how to knock them loose? First, it’s important to recognize the wrong mental objects that appear in mom’s head at the wrong time: a cooking pot… a broom… carpet with scattered toys… speckled socks. You get the point. 

Imagine a mom walking home on a magic spring evening. Cool, refreshing breeze, full moon, twilight. Amazing night, and she does not even have a stroller to push, or loads of grocery shopping or anything like that. That mom is in the most romantic mood, which can be spoiled with just a hint of a thought. Let’s not spoil that mood, and here, in this post I am writing (from experience, of course), how to say “no” and knock thoughts loose. 

The worst thoughts to spoil a happy mom’s mood are thoughts about the mess at home. The laundry. The dishes. The homework. The laundry again (the wet, the dry, and the one in the machine). The unprepared dinner (even if for tomorrow, but why not think about it in advance). The toys, generously spread all over the place. The small Lego parts, waiting for the bare feet at the night time…

These redundant thoughts clamber into mom’s head in the most natural way, like undesired guests who call in the least appropriate moment.

So, just like you would say “no” to unwanted guests (unless they bring food with them), you can say “no” to unwelcome thoughts. Here is how I think about it: “These thoughts came to steal my energy, to spoil my magic, to gnaw from my happiness. I knock thoughts loose right away, I send them away on a speed train, I clean my consciousness from them with a magic broom. 

Awareness is the king

If a mom is aware enough of what’s going on she will chase them off, free her mind from the unnecessary cognitive activity, from the vain trouble-solving process (because it’s not actually solving anything), from the painful process of rewinding the dirty laundry of her life in a mixing bowl called “head” by a machine called “mind”. Once a mom is aware she will easily knock these thoughts loose. 

I know, that people like guidelines and lists, so here I prepared a short and comprehensive guidelines on how to recognize, avoid and knock loose thoughts that spoil the magic. 

Step 1: Knock thoughts loose – recognize when it starts

It’s the hardest and the most important step. Because once you catch the thought from its very beginning, you can get over it more easily. Tracking thoughts should be a mom’s healthy habit, something she does on a regular basis. When the “laundry” thought creeps in on a magic night with a sky full of start, a conscious mom has two ways to handle it: either she smiles to herself and says “No. This is not happening because I don’t want it to happen.” Another way is, if the thought brings a great degree of embarrassment or unpleasantness – mom can boil a little, then – puff – let it out. 

And here we come to step two:

Step 2: Knock thoughts loose: cut and replace the “laundry thoughts” by “magic thoughts”

Cutting thoughts to zero thoughts, stopping the process and staying alive is, in my opinion, kinda impossible. The author of this post surely cannot just hang in there not thinking about anything at all (though she tries and maybe some day she will do it). Therefore, the easier way to do it, for now, is to REPLACE the “laundry” thought by a “magic” thought. Something good that matters. Something positive that seems good for real (not something a mom has read in a book or seen in a movie). A wish to come true, an old dream – anything that brings the authentic, good vibes. Don’t try to fool yourself, don’t fake it – the thoughts should be about something that matters and it is the key point here. Otherwise, you simply won’t believe yourself and the trick won’t work.

Step 3: Focus, count, repeat.

It’s vital to focus on this positive thread, be it anything that makes you feel vigorous, powerful and happy. Breathing and counting works great, but if it sounds boring just walking out there counting and focusing you may try other technique. For example, repeating words that matter, words that help knock the laundry thoughts loose from your mind. I say to myself sometimes: “the sky is blue, the breeze is fresh, isn’t it a miracle that I can walk like this, watch these blooming trees, this graceful architecture, these fascinating cars. Isn’t it awesome that I can breath, smile, enjoy good food, listen to music, watch movies, read books, paint, dance, stretch, jump and feel good about myself?

Once it becomes a habit you don’t need to do the counting work anymore. Things happen naturally, you learn to stay focused on what YOU pick from the diversity of the world. You watch the movie you choose and you knock the awful thoughts loose in a wink of eye.

avoid back pain

Avoid back pain – 5 minutes per day

Hello, I am your back and I am in pain.

How to avoid back pain with just 5 minutes per day and some minor effort? How to fend off the creepy feeling of your spine nearly breaking by the end of the day?

Do you ever know what your spine is through while you don’t even feel it? Every time I curve sit near my laptop, every time I bend in the wrong way, every time I have to lift something heavy my child – there are little bells ringing “My back, my back, my back! It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!”

All the exercises and techniques I show here are super short and dense. Just like in the post about breathing techniques – also here, you can learn to avoid back pain significantly with an activity that will steal 5-7 minutes from your schedule.

Is it even possible to completely avoid back pain?

Yes and no. Yes – if you train for at least 30 minutes every day in the right manner (better with an instructor or guided by a video). No – if you skip the practice, neglect and dismiss the first symptoms of  discomfort and only use heating pillows to put under your back before going to sleep.

Every mom knows what pack pain is. Some moms do something about it, others neglect it and wait until it strikes them hard one day. Avoiding back pain on early stages is one of the best things a mom can do for herself and her children. 

Busy females who run banks, raise twelve kids, maintain apartments and have to carry water from the river every day definitely have no time for classic yoga, Pilates, swimming and a bunch of other healthy things. The author of this post is a buzzy busy mom who only finds time to blog and take long showers, but never the time for a proper work out.

Therefore, here is one great exercise that anyone can do without special training. All you need is a mat or a carpet to sit and roll on. It takes about 5 minutes but makes a huge positive change to the back. No more wailing about lack of time!

Here is how it goes:

Step 1: Sit down, bend your knees and hug them with your arms. Your back can be straight but it’s ok if your back is slightly curved.

Step2: Pull your knees to your chest, keep on holding them with your hands. Your feet can be crossed or parallel – I prefer mine to be crossed, but it is up to you.

Step 3: Gently push yourself down on the back, while your legs are crossed in the air, your hands supporting them. All your movements should be slow and careful.

Step 4: Roll back until you are back to the initial sitting position. Your hands are hugging your legs all the time. Are you feeling ok? If there is dizziness you should drink some water and sit still for a while.

Step 5: Repeat the rolling back and forth, this time try to stay on your spine for a longer time while rocking back and forth. If you hear “bones cracking”, it’s ok. This is the way of my back to thank me after a long day of no exercise.

When rolling forth, you do not have to reach the initial sitting position every time. Touching the floor (or the mat) with your toes is enough, though you can reach a fulling sitting position if you want to. I prefer not to, as it causes my head to spin. I prefer my back-and-forth movements to have a shorter amplitude.

Step 6: By the end of the rock-n-roll sit straight again, gently release your arms from your legs. Stretch your legs forward or to the sides and bend to the right and to the left. Touch the toes of each leg with your hands, as much as possible.

Avoid back pain in a more creative way

For ingenious moms are bored to just roll back and forth, here is a twist in the scenario: every time you land back try to move your body a bit to the right or to the left (once you picked a side, stick to it). Every time you lift up try to move your body again to the opposite side. For example: every time I roll down I land slighty to the left, every time I move up I move slightly to the right. Repeat the same way with every rock.

At some point you will be able to make an entire 180 degree turn using the ups-and-downs!

The same exercise can be done in a slightly different way. Instead of rolling back and forth on your spine, you can roll from side to side. Legs are held by your arms, and you are using the stomach and the back muscles to move your body from left to right and vice versa.

losing weight after birth

Losing weight after birth

 

Losing weight after birth and getting back to “jeans of my dreams” is an ambitious goal of almost every mom. There are these lucky slender amazons who had never gained weight in the first place, but this post is not about them. The author of this blog is a mom who bargains with every gram of her body, trying to scare them (the grams) away in the most natural way. So, here are three proven techniques for how to get rid of excessive self. These methods do work only if you have the full intention for them to work. No magic potions, no dried bats and no spells. Only work with one’s consciousness and some physical activity for dessert.

Set timed goals and objectives

Just “keeping it in mind” is not enough. A mom needs to have specific goals in terms of dates and numbers. Then, she should try to stick to the goal while keeping with her convenient lifestyle as much as possible. Losing weight after birth is a challenging task that requires some form of compensation for every small achievement. For example, every time my weight goes 0,5 kilo down and does not come back on the following it’s a good reason to celebrate another milestone. For example, I buy myself a piece of cloth that now fits me well: it creates an enormous incentive to keep on the weight-losing track.

I say no quick diets, yes to sensibility

Some people can get very serious about it. Can I live like that? Not yet. But I’m getting there.

I never touch sugar, cheese, bread…
I only like what I’m allowed to like. I’m beyond temptation. There is no weakness. When I see tons of food in the studio, for us and for everybody, for me it’s as if this stuff was made out of plastic. The idea doesn’t even enter my mind that a human being could put that into their mouth. I’m like the animals in the forest. They don’t touch what they cannot eat.”
Karl Lagerfeld

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/dieting

Most of the girls have more or less tried diets in their teen-hood and I am no exception. I still remember these depressive hungry evenings when all my thoughts were concentrated around a loaf of bread. From today’s life position I see it as the most pathetic and the least effective way to lose weight. Keeping one hungry only means that she will compencate it to herself later and probably, will gain the same weight she lost in an unfair battle.

Sensibility and harmony in everything is the gift that comes with age, experience and awareness. It does not only refer to weight, but embrasses every life sphere. However, since right now the painful (cross line) topic is weight loss I will concentrate on that.

So, what does it mean, a sensible diet?

That means I am not rejecting but replacing. “Yummy” things go away and other things come instead. It sounds simple but it is not. How does a mom convince herself, that this very piece of amazing, shiny chocolate cake and this little cup of coffee next to it are not on today’s menu? How do I keep my hands away from favorite things that bring me from size S to S++?

Once the favorite things stop being my number one choice. Forever.

It is achieved by inner conversation and persuasion, by understanding and loving oneself. A bar of chocolate can be replaced by honey, figs, bananas and so on. Yes, I know it’s not fully interchangeable at the beginning, so a mom can come to some agreement with herself, and reduce the amount of chocolate and cookies she consumes by replacing the rest with honey and fruits.

Sports and fun

By sports, I mean all the fun things that mom likes to do that involve physical activity: dancing, walking, running, child-lifting, swimming. Anything works, as long as it is done on a daily basis. A fitness club twice a week is not as good as a 30 minute walk every morning. A swimming pool (how many moms have the luxury to go to the swimming pool every day?) once a week is not the same as 15 minutes of intensive stretching and push-ups done with joy (who said joy? OK, then without the push-ups).

The most important thing about losing weight after birth is let it happen in its own pace. It might take a year. Every mom, eventually, wants this weight to go away forever. This is why quick diets will not work here (not to speak about the danger of losing milk).

To lose weight forever means to be in peace with every extra kilogram and let it go when the time comes. The sports, the balanced diet and the targeted goals are something, that should accompany mom all the way through, with no relation to children, work, success or failure. An after-birth era just requires a bit more attention and concentration, but the general formula – goals, diet, sports – works for all times, good and bad.

yawning therapy

Yawning therapy

So, what is Yawning Therapy?

It’s a natural and simple way to get rid of stress, bad mood and undesired thoughts. Yawning is free, you can do it almost anytime and you don’t need a life coach to teach you  to grab some extra oxygen. Yawning therapy is one of these simple and neglected things people have forgotten (Why? Because most people are busy with other things, that’s why).

Every mom needs to do some yawning once in a while, and when she does is consciously and purposefully, things change: from mere yawning to an effective relaxation technique.

What is it good for?

  • good mood (not a bad thing at all)
  • beauty (some extra oxygen into the cells is a great idea). Tears, that come down by the end of the practice are good for rinsing and refreshing the sensitive eye skin.
  • brilliant ideas and inspiration that come into mom’s head (when the head is not heavily occupied by dirty soup, scattered soup and sock making… sorry, I meant dirty diapers, scattered socks and soup making)

Before you start the yawning therapy

  • you can be alone or among strangers who don’t care about you (like in a bus or in a busy street. But not during family dinner, even if you are with your sunglasses on.)
  • if you cannot be alone, at least put some sunglasses on or turn aside so that your face will not be seen
  • you will not have any make up on your face or at least in the eyes area.
  • You cannot talk or listen to anyone at the time of the practice, it will distract you and reduce the effect (well, it’s pretty self-explanatory, but I had to say it just in case).

Yawning therapy. Three steps:

Exhales longer than inhales

start breathing 4-6 (or any other number, but make sure your inhales and shorter than your exhales). Keep on breathing and counting: 1-2-3-4 is an inhale, 1-2-3-4-5-6 is an exhale. Continue the same way even if nothing happens: just lie and breath (you can do it in a sitting position as well, even in a public place. Just make sure you have sunglasses on).

Let yawning happen naturally

soon, you will start yawning. It will happen naturally, no need to do anything special otherwise than breath in the 4-6 way. Let yourself yawn as it goes, dont’t try to stop or control it. It is better if you are alone, but if not, as I said, make sure that you have sunglasses on or that nobody sees your face. It can get in the way when someone is observing you while yawning. Also, no need to cover your mouth, forget about rules.

Tears of relaxation

In the third stage, tears might start running down and it’s not because you’re sad and sorry, but it’s a natural process which I cannot really explain. I only know that it occures and that it leaves black traces of mascara, so better remove it before.

When to stop?

You can stop the practice at any moment, no special instructions needed. I would recommend doing it for 10-15 minutes at the least, because it takes time to get to the stage of “tears” and relaxation. 2-3 minutes will not be enough for a proper therapy, but it’s still better than nothing.

stressed for meditation

Too stressed for meditation.

As a mom, I relate to different states of mind. Though meditation has become part of my everyday being, still, there are situations when I’m too nervous, tired and overwhelmed with thoughts that won’t let go. Too stressed for meditation. Relaxed breathing just doesn’t happen that easily in these cases. What to do then?

Observe. I observe myself being nervous and I listen to my fast beating heart. I don’t even try to meditate or relax since it won’t work right away. Observation is the first step: it distracts me from one thing – negative thoughts and brings me to another thing – of moderate tranquility. From there, it is possible to move on to steadier breathing.

Observe also means accept. I accept my state, my craziness, my darkest thoughts and malicious fears.  After accepting, I cut them off naturally with one word. You choose your own word, I have mine.

Now, my favorite techniques on how to get going:

So, where do I start if I am too stressed for meditation?

These are not magic ways or special self-treatments. These are ordinary methods of relaxation that work only because I want them too.

Down count breaths.

As I wrote in another post, counting breaths is a simple and powerful technique. Yet, down-counting is another way to calm when ordinary breath counting does not help. The same down-counting method helps when you are working out in the gym: to do 10 push-ups is easier when you start from the 10th. The same goes for meditative breaths: I set myself a goal of, let’s say, 7 breaths, and start from the 7th to the 1st. A silly mind trick that works.

When stressed for meditation – don’t meditate. Act.

Breathing is good but sometimes it’s not enough. Physical action, dynamic meditation, movement. This movement has to be chaotic, useless, silly, purposeless. Dancing, jumping, shaking, scratching stretching and so on.

Do it alone.

It’s not always possible, but being alone works best for me. What if she cannot be alone at this moment, what if she is surrounded by children who want a happy mom?

Then, I tell them the truth, at their level of understanding. “Mommy is tired. Mommy needs a few quiet moments. Mommy will rest for just a few minutes and then will come out and play/make cookies/stay on her head.

Laugh. Or pretend to.

Remember that laugh scene from “Witches of Eastwick”? I believe, that laughter can do magic wrinkles and if not make you literally fly, then at least give that same feeling. The feeling of freedom, relaxation and transcendent joy. When too stressed for ordinary breathing meditation, mom can laugh or pretend to laugh – the extra short exhales that make the belly work hard and a faint of a smile. Slowly, mom can get used to create that pseudo-laughing image of herself on a regular basis (it is funny when you think about it). Self-irony has lots of benefits when you think about it.

 

life scenario

Breathing techniques for tired moms

The overwhelming, hectic and messy day routine brings mom to hell an unbalanced state. All she wants is to drop down somewhere (bed is the best option but other options such as carpets, armchairs and sofas fit as well). Here is where simple breathing techniques can save the mom’s world.

Imagine this: a mom is surrounded by her dearest little ones. Each kid is in a different mood producing appropriate sounds: loud, demanding, complaining, even crying. Mom’s task: to remain calm, solve the problem, remain calm. Repeat, if necessary.

I’ve learned to catch this tiny moment when “remain calm” mantra stops working and turns into “get wild”. It starts somewhere in the chest, around the 4th chakrah. The breath does not flow as easily as it should. And from here, there are only a few steps to the “wild” state.

Here are three simple breathing techniques I use to retain the balanced mood and prevent anger and frustration to take over.

breathing techniques

 

 

Breath 4-6 – when you are alone

Count till 4 while you breath in. Count till 6 while you breath out. The rule is simple: inhales are always shorter than exhales, even if you choose different numbers. The technique is good for quiet moments with yourself, but not for moments of acute stress. One important thing to remember is to stop for a second between the inhale and the exhale. This is the short moment when no breathing is taking place – this little suspension, the peak, the ultimate point between the ups and downs. As a part of the meditation, stop for a moment and recognize you are there. Relive this turning point when the inhale is already behind and the exhale has not started yet.

Do extra short exhales – for acute stress

breathing techniques

It is a yoga practice, which I like to use when I feel I’m approaching a totally wrong place. In moments of darkest despair and crazy fatigue it is the best thing after chocolate. The inhales take only fractions of seconds. The exhales are also super short and they require the belly to work hard. During this technique stomach works the most, releasing the negativity through the out-coming air.

Breath normally but consciously – for every situation

Watching the flow of air all the way up and down is a great relaxation practice before fatigue has reached its extreme point. When I am not in the mood to count 4-6, the best thing is just to allow the breath to make its natural way in and out. The most important here, is to watch this natural flow of air, keeping thoughts-of-the-day out if your mind.

It’s amazing, how many things can be achieved by simple breathing exercises, if practiced regularly. In the worst moments, it’s good to remember, that breathing is the most essential part of human existence. While it is possible to survive without food or water for a while, oxygen is an invisible companion following us in every life situation, good or bad. A totally basic thought, true. For me, however, these basic things are like beams of light in a dark attic.

open with my child

To be open with my child

I wish I could be as open with my child as possible. However, there are certain topics mom doesn’t need to share with her growing kids. Is is possible to build trust without revealing everything?

How open does a mom have to be when it comes to her personal life?

So, your daughter wants to know how things work in this life and she doesn’t mean electricity or space. It’s more about: relationships, love/hate, soups, children, mice and dirty socks.

As a mom, I know I have to be open, honest and authentic. I feel extremely proud, that she chose me as her primary source of information. I try to do everything to make sure she will not regret it. But on the other hand, how open does a mom have to be when it comes to questioning about her personal life?

What if mom does not want to tell everything? She can:

  • hide, by giving abstract meaningless answers or change the subject in a delicate way.
  • be honest and say: I prefer to keep this to myself. Everyone has the right to keep secrets period.

Naturally, as an honest and straightforward mom I’m choosing the second option. It took me time to get there, though. It did not seem so obviously right at first. “What’s the problem to be open with my child”, I asked myself. Here is the thing: there is no problem to pour your soul out as long as you feel comfortable about the possible consequences. The feeling of complacency is the indicator that things are going right. Once a mom has this uneasy feeling, this little “stop” sign that lightens up, that is the time to stop.

Does it actually mean a mom does not trust her kids?

Trust is one of the most important things, and the most vulnerable ones, too. It’s so hard to build and so easy to ruin.

Once mom keeps secrets from her children in an open way, it may convey a wrong message: “kid, I don’t trust you”.

Is it so, I’m asking myself? Can mom always be 100% sure her little one will keep the secret to themselves? And what happens if not?

These are tough questions with no ready answers. 

So here is bunch of reasons why being open with my child does not mean telling absolutely everything.

  • The desire to avoid accidental leak of information (friends, relatives, social networks).
  • The desire to avoid later discussion on the painful topic.
  • Shame of sorts (yes, once moms were young, brave and stupid reckless).
  • The fear of misunderstanding, misinterpretation (we are talking about age of 10 and up. People of the new generation might have a totally different view on a seemingly “obvious” situation their mom has been to).

Plus, this inexplicable factor of uneasiness to talk about a certain subject when it comes to personal life. (Why? Because).

Altogether – the conclusion is – if mom doesn’t want to share she does not have to. Just like her growing kids don’t necessarily have to share everything (and they won’t, take my word).

third child

How not to spoil the third child?

This article is for parents whose children outnumber them by 1. Or, in other words, parents with three growing heirs. Turning the third child into mama’s boy or papa’s girl is easier than it may seem. No matter how busy and tired the parents are, unfortunately, they still find options to spoil the youngest offspring – their third child.

When number three comes into the world it changes the family life in its unique manner. The first child crushes mom’s familiar world into pieces of happiness, fear and other mixed emotions. The second child brings in this feeling of “now we are a big family”. A different mixture of emotions and, in a combination with the first one, a lot more pressure overall. The third child, however, comes into a calm laguna called experience. Mom and Dad are a team of Special Forces. Neither sleepless nights nor the hectic routines are able to really spoil the day. The big question is now, how to manage the entire team? How to stay afloat with the older kids’ activities, homework, conversations?

Depending on the age differences, older kids can help or become an unbearable burden. Either way, the third child has the highest chances among the other kids in the family to become the infantile little mama’s boy or girl.

I see two ways to prevent that from happening:

It’s not only between the mom and the third child

The new little creature draws a ton of attention (not sure attention is measured in tons but proportionally to its weight, the amount of noise the baby creates around itself is huge).

Remember, that the older kids are still kids . If they are under the age of 15 they are still young children (even if they pretend to be the coolest and most independent creatures on earth). They watch their mom doing all sort of things.

It’s not about what I say to them (how much she loves them etc.) but more about what I do: the mimics and expression on my face, the gestures of my hands or in one word – body language.

What is the constant thought that helps me balance the hugs-and-kisses between all the kids? The idea, that they are still very young and might be jealous. The idea, that this jealousy might reduce their appreciation of the new creature and life itself.

My solution: I let them, the older kids, do the hugs-kisses work. Sing, talk, change diapers, put to sleep, feed – they can do it all. I only let them. My role in this scenario, is to watch and supervise.

Spend enough time with the older kids

Yes, I know it sounds like sci-fi, and it’s quite impossible to keep on with the same routine in the first months after birth.  The phrase “getting back to normal” sounds awkward to me, so I won’t use it here. Instead let’s say, that after some time life is settled into some new form of normal. It happens naturally, but still requires mom’s attention.

Whatever relates to the kids’ education, homework and intellectual activities should be continued just the way it was. Not only after-school activities. Habits, that used to take place before the birth of the third child: book-reading, word games, creative time. The “educational” life of the older kids should stay pretty much the same. If, before, it used to be natural (we sit and read together, no one is disturbing), now, it’s a task to complete:

  • catch the quiet moments,
  • put on hold all other business,
  • organize the older kids,
  • ignore the desire to fall into the bed and die fatigue and
  • just do it.

Sit all together and read some book, as before. Take out colored paper and cut shapes, as before. You get the idea. The older kids should not feel unnatural freedom in this sense, and the little one will slowly get used to the fact that she, sometimes, may enjoy the freedom – meaning, not eliciting the attention of the entire family after a single squeak.

This is the healthy balance that creates healthy dynamics. It teaches the teens, the toddlers and the newborns how things are run in the house. Mom’s attention and energy are precious assets that must not be wasted. This is what kids should be taught from the very beginning, in a loving and caring way of course. This is what the author of this post is trying to master.

What is the best present for a modern child?

Here’s a riddle: where hides the best present for the modern child who has nearly everything? To put it short: my children don’t enjoy the sweet small gifts for the new year that I put into their socks at night. They show signs of disappointment if it’s not some shiny model of a trophy tank or a mermaid who solves double integrals. They show almost no interest if it’s a simple thing like a set of color markers or stickers for room decoration – something I would enjoy tremendously in my childhood.

Spoiled? Maybe. But I believe it’s more of a trend, that has to do with the growing addiction to the digital devices: smartphones, tablets and so forth.

Every time a problem pops up, I like to analyze, look for reasons and come up with a smart and elegant solution and feel very smart. But this time I admit – I only see the phenomena but no way to get rid of it.

Children of the digital age – my children, in particular, obviously have different set of priorities than I used to have in my childhood around 30 years ago. I’m more than OK with the digital age but yet – I still read thick paper books, appreciate moments of total silence boredom? and make sure I do not become too addicted to the smartphone. But how come, that my little people have lost a great part of appreciation of material things called toys?

This is a cry into the void. Yet, I have come up with observations and ways to turn the old-fashioned toys into best presents.

Listen to your child – she will tell you everything

Children often tell us directly what kind of presents they wish for. It’s parents, who systematically choose to ignore or forget. Busy, tired, distracted – there are many reasons why moms don’t hear the messages that are poured directly into their ears.

I make a conscious effort to hear them. I struggle to create a space somewhere between the nerve cells of my brain, sort and store the most important information. It ranges between casual after-school conversations to serious evening talks about global social issues. It’s about getting used to being there when your child talks. (Even if that means answering with an “uh-huh” because you are too tired to stir the muscles of your jaws). Then you both may find yourselves in a better place of mutual understanding.

Ask them

Yes, the element of surprise will disappear. However, asking a direct question will save the guess work and will ensure you give them something they genuinely crave for. By the way, it often happens that kids forget they had told you what they had told you, so the element of surprise might reappear if you wait long enough.

Surprising or not – the conclusion:

Despite the said above, once the digital devices are put away for a while, a magic thing happens – my children become children again: creatures happy from just being there at home with their mom and dad. They jump on sofas, mold with play-dough, stand on their heads and write stories (on paper). Plush dogs and cats become best presents again. My straightforward conclusion: it’s us, parents, who allow children to hang an endless amount of time with the devices, because it’s us, parents, who crave for the quiet hours moments. Which means, that it’s all up to the mom – how long can she last (work, rest) without her kids being fixed on the monitor?

mom and children

How to allocate mom’s attention between several kids

 

Having many kids around means mom needs to allocate her time, energy and attention between them efficiently. By efficiently, I mean, that each kid will feel loved and appreciated in their own unique way. Some kids love to talk to their mom, asking questions and listening to long lectures. Other kids like to play and construct, build and create things – being together in the process of making stuff. There are also kids, who just need long hugs and flows of energy without too much other activities going on.

One of my kids is the talking kind. We exchange a few thousands words per day and it does not seem to be enough. I find myself being exhausted of these conversations but,on the other hand, I realize, that this is the way of my kid to get their share of me. Any other ways won’t work as well.

My other kid is the hug-and-play kind, who chooses to stay close while I work, cook, read or knit. Talking is less of a priority, which gives me more space to concentrate on other things while sending rays of mom’s energy at the same time.

Is it that simple? Well, not really.

The interesting part begins when all the kids are tearing their mom apart sitting together each trying to get her unique attention – and my role here, as I see it, is to be able to quickly switch from one kind of attention to another.

The competition for mom’s attention does not end regardless of the kids’ age. I guess it’s something that lasts all the way through and never actually stops, maybe until full adulthood. Not sure I will still be running this blog when I get there, but if so, I will let you know.

Ta-dam! A newborn joins a family with older kids

Every time a new child is born into a family with older kids, mom needs to reallocate her attention, so that the change will not be so drastic. Quite a challenge, I should say. The competition is tough, each sibling is trying to prove himself as best of everything – especially when it comes to helping mom with the newborn. The balance is so delicate here, that I weigh almost every word that comes out of my mouth. Praising one child too much might mean hurting another. Judging or criticizing actions or behaviors might be interpreted in the wrong way given the sensitive circumstances.

Having thought about it for a while I developed my strategy of not simply praising but creating a system of roles and niches.

A winning niche for every kid

Here is a situation from real life:

An older kid helps mom by staying next to the newborn while mom is taking a shower. The middle kid does not really find a way to help and feels being out. Mom creates two niches: the older one is the “top-nanny” while the middle one is the “top-messenger” (delivering messages and items such as diapers, napkins etc. when needed). With this strategy every kid fills a niche where they are on top – beyond feeling appreciated, now each knows exactly what duties and responsibilities are expected of him.

As a bottom line – the delicate balance of attention is not subject to formulas or rules – it’s an ongoing process, a changing strategy, something, that requires live reaction. From my own experience, the niche strategy works best. Each kid fills a space where they feel kings. Each kid is a small rules of its sovereign virtual territory of rights and duties, expectations and rewards. On top of that, of course, there is the great mom’s appreciation, spraying ike an air-purifier above all.