Why Is Asking For Help So Difficult?

I’ve just spent two weeks sick, oh my god, since I’ve been a ‘grown up’, I can hardly think of any times that I’ve had to rest and recuperate for so long.  Now once I got my head around it, I’ve really appreciated the experience, but initially it was blinking hard, because I had to ask for help so much.  There were calls to neighbours, in-laws, friends, husbands having to work from home, and people paid to help out.  I had to pathetically ask people to get me a drink, food, pills, or comfort my baby, just so that all of my energy was focussed on recovering, and I found it at times very distressing.

I had plenty of time to think about it too, and one day I spent a long time looking back and back, wondering why I hated it so much.  Yesterday I read an interesting blog by AlphaMummy about the same sort of thing, and their discovery of a fab charity called Homestart who can help out when things get too difficult.  It was suggested that it was a middle class thing to ‘just get on with it‘, and I must admit there was an element of that.  After-all, someone who was upper-class or very rich, could just throw money at it and employ ‘staff’, and someone very poor can ask for benefits from the government (I know there is an element of generalisation here).  Before I fell sick I emailed my local NCT yahoo group for ideas of how to cope or get help with the evening routine, now that I have 2 kids (no family of my own, no local in-laws, and husband working long hours).  I got one lovely reply also mentioning Homestart, which was quickly followed by another reply from a Mum saying that Homestart was only for people with ‘real problems’, i.e. not available for ‘nice middle class’ families!

The question was, why did I find it so difficult to ask for help?  What was at the root of it all, and what was the basic fear that was being triggered?

With some people it is the wish to be independent, or hate to show vulnerabilities or weaknesses, which I suspect many people would think was my reasoning, but it wasn’t.  There might be a social aspect, where we don’t like to be considered a hypochondriac, or to be a burden on other people.

My parents had the same tendency.  I remember nursing them throughout my summer holidays after my O Levels.  Mum had broken her pelvis, and Dad was recovering from a heart attack.  They could easily have paid for some help, or gone into hospital to recuperate.  But instead they stayed at home and kept it quiet how ill they were.  The downside was a very pissed off teenage daughter by the end of the holidays, who started smoking from the stress of it all; potentially not what they planned for!

The saddest story I’ve heard recently was of a young boy of 11yrs old, who waited in a corridor for a teacher, whilst having an asthma attack that he later died of.  If this is the kind of potential ramifications of my not asking for help and passing on the same tendency to my children, then I definitely needed to get my head around the issue.

When I broke down my fear, I realised that the reason that I was so uncomfortable was because I could never be sure of people’s reactions.  They could jump to my assistance with enthusiasm and willingness.  Alternatively, there were bound to be times when they were plainly irritated, tired or could refuse or ignore my requests.  The earliest memory I could find of not asking for help was as a 2yr old, in my attic bedroom, in the midst of a storm and absolutely terrified.  Looking back it seems daft that I didn’t absolutely scream for help, but I didn’t.  To be honest, it also seems weird that my parents hadn’t worked out how scared I would be.  Instead I imagined an angel watching over me, and hid under my blankets until morning.  It suggests that I was used to not getting an ‘ideal’ response when asking for things, or any response at all, and I had just basically given up.

So, I sat in bed an had a little chat to myself.  I looked at the worst possible thing that could happen.  People could think badly of me, they could think that I was weak, they could think that I was making it up, and they could refuse to help.  But, I remembered that only 50% of the world will think like this, so there will also be people who think differently.  They will enjoy being asked to help, or being paid to help, or knowing that I’m not perfect so they don’t have to try and live up to something impossible.  Rather than focus on the reactions that I didn’t enjoy, I thought about the ones that had been supportive, helpful and comforting, because there were going to be as many of them as the negative ones.  Some of the benefits of my being ill this time, were an much closer bond between my in-laws and my kids, which is really lovely to see.  Plus I have a better understanding of my husband’s values and what his priorities are for a ‘happy home’, which is important as both of us have changed with the arrival of the 2nd child, and maybe it’s time for some adjustments in the way we live.

So I’m not going to run out into the world and ask for help all the time, because that extreme would be just as unhealthy.  I’m going to try and ask for help half the time, and show my kids that it’s OK to sometimes need help and OK to sometimes be independent.  Plus when my daughter screams in the car seat that she hates so much when taking my son too and from school, I will remind myself that it’s better that she lets me know (however horrid and uncomfortable for me that she is crying), than that she ‘just puts up with it’; hmmm, I might need to do a little more work on that one for it to not leave me feeling gutted each time, but it does feel a little better.

Do you find it difficult to ask for help?  What is it you don’t like about it and WHY do you reckon that is?

Have You Remembered To Ask Yourself?

When in the midst of attempting to make a decision or solve a problem there are a number of things that we often do:

  1. Worry & Panic!
  2. Ask Friends for advice
  3. Ask So called Specialists/Guru’s for advice
  4. Research ideas in books or the internet

But something we often forget to do is ask ourselves!  Do you know what, we are quite wise really, and one of the reasons why it is often a good idea to ask yourself, is because you are really the only person who knows you, your situation and the surrounding issues intimately.  I love a bit of brainstorming in order to sort the facts in my brain.  But ultimately, actually remembering to ask myself what I would say to me if I was a friend/client in the same situation is the beginnings of discovering a solution.

The wisest people balance learning from both outside sources and themselves.  Only listening to your own counsel would mean that you will happily ignore any concepts that are a little uncomfortable for you.  Plus there is no way that anyone can know every possible fact or option!  But only listening to other people, means that you are disempowering yourself and not believing in yourself.  So what you are looking for is a little bit of both as an ideal balance.

Now sometimes I know we literally can’t hear ourselves think, because of all the brain noise in our heads. If that is your current problem, have a quick look through my blogs, because the whole reason for the ‘Mummy whisperer’ is to help you clear all that noise, and I may have blogged already on your current issue, or something similar.  Meanwhile, find a pragmatic (grounded, down to earth & practical) friend, who will help you get a reality check on your fears and guilts.  I’d recommend avoiding the sympathetic ones, because although we need a little bit of support sometimes, it doesn’t tend to actually get us out of the pit we dug ourselves.

Or is it because you can’t see an option which works for you and your family?  Then quite likely you are in one of those situations where more time is needed, because you just don’t have all the necessary information yet.  Check out my blogs about decision making, because they may help you on how to identify the missing information.

So, what would you tell yourself today if you had a chance to chat to yourself?

If I was talking to myself today (whilst awaiting the arrival of No2), I would say:

– Have a cuppa and a cake, whilst enjoying watch some more back issues of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.  But remember to drink lots of water as well.

– Don’t worry about all the well meaning ‘has she arrived yet’ messages – that doesn’t translate to ‘FFS don’t you know your own body well enough to know whether she is coming or not’!

– She just wants to make an grand entrance, plus after all the noise at that chaos/mayhem called a 4yr old’s soft play party at the weekend, she probably thought she was safer staying inside for a bit longer ;o)

– If your instinct is to stay in, be quiet and be a hermit for a while, then go for it; This is probably the last time you will have a baby in your tummy again or a chance to rest for about 4yrs, so try to make the most of it.

What can we expect from our Men?

Fay Weldon has just written what some people are seeing as a shocking article from a feminist, where she is telling women to pick up men’s socks.  But I salute her, for her realism and I’m going to explain why, but maybe in less shocking terms!  (She is making a distinct difference between home and work – with work where she stresses that we shouldn’t pick up the socks! i.e. make coffee)

I’ve talked before about having realistic expectations of your children, rather than expecting a 2week old to sleep through the night, or a 3yr old to be able to articulate clearly, or a teenager to manager their emotions.  Every child will mature at their own unique speed, with some areas that they excel at and some that they are slower at.  Every child is just as great and clever as the next child, it’s just that they do it in different ways, that’s all.

The same rule applies to all ‘humans’.  We are all great at some stuff and rubbish at other stuff.  Not all men are rubbish at picking up socks, but there probably is a healthy majority, which doesn’t have it as a key skill.  Just as not all women are great at looking after a house, but we do have a tendency to be better at it than the men.  It’s all down to what we value in life, because if we value it, we will do it automatically and better than the things that we don’t value.  Everyone has different values, which affects how we see the world that we live in.  Some Mums will have a huge value on being a SAHM and will therefore judge others for not doing it.  Some Mums will have a huge value on eco-living and judge any mum using a disposable, even if it is eco-friendly (believe me, I’ve been at the receiving end of ‘nappy-date’ in our local NCT! – but thats another story!).  The eco Mums will wonder how come the other Mums can’t manage to wash nappies.  The disposable nappy mums will probably be thinking that they’d go mad if they attempted to do that as well, which is because it isn’t in their values, so it doesn’t come easy to them.

So we all have different values, and the man in your life will have very different values from your own.  They are MEANT TO BE DIFFERENT!!  There’s no need to us all being the same, that would make us unnecessary, so everyone has a different combination and hierarchy of values.  Everyone is totally committed to their OWN values.  They might say that they are interested in yours, in an attempt to appease, but it’s what they do that counts.  Everyone has skills according to their values.

So it is unreasonable to expect yourself to be anything other than yourself, and it is unreasonable to expect the man in your life to be anything other than who they are.  There are times in our life when we have to do things that we don’t want to, especially as a Mum.  But it probably wouldn’t work for us if the house was a total disaster area, so even if we don’t find it the most fulfilling job (and I’m jealous of those who do enjoy it), we still do it.  Now your bloke probably doesn’t notice or care as much when the house is in a state, because they have totally different values filtered eyes to you.  (Like the fact that my hubby can see a Ferrari on the opposite side of the motorway going past at 100 miles an hour, but can’t find the tomato ketchup sitting stock still in the cupboard).

We are ‘equally’ as valueable to society as men.  But that doesn’t mean that we all have to be the same.  It’s more about embracing our differences and who we are, just as we are.  You maybe an exception and much more interested in typical ‘male’ activities – that’s great, that’s who you are.  Or you maybe the extreme opposite, loving baking and home making – perfect, that’s who you are.  And the same applies to our men.

So what to do, if it’s winding you up about the socks?!  Well, one thing definitely won’t work; shouting at him that he ‘should do it, and is unappreciative of what you do!  Here are a number of options, let me know if none of them work and I’ll come up with some more:

1) If you can afford it, get some outside assistance – my hubby likes the house clean, is not so good at doing it himself consistently (can do it in an emergency), but as I’m part-time working, there is no way he expects me to do it.  So I employ a cleaner.  I probably only just cover the costs of the cleaner, nursery, and a few other bits & pieces, but I’d prefer to be working part-time than not.  If I clean all the house, it doesn’t suit me, and I get overstressed, and my self-esteem drops.  So this is a good compromise for us.

2) If there is a chance that you can persuade your other half to help out then learn the art of negotiation – have a think about what your other half values and enjoys in life.  Then have a think about the things that you would like to delegate to him.  Which suit him best?  For example, bins is great for mine, because it’s not every day.  Emptying the dish washer was our agreement for getting one, because I’ve always hated doing that for some reason.  None are too ‘heavy’.  Then have a think about how you can sell it to him in a way that works for him.  It worked for me to say that doing the bins was tricky because were I am it takes ages to sort out the recycling and that would lead to a stressed and frantic child.  I’ve also asked for help in getting my little boy into his pj’s, because if hubby gets home before DS is in bed, it will delay things, and then if I do everything, we won’t get much chance to sit together in the evening before I’m shattered and off to bed.  If he helps, it gives us 10 more precious minutes together.  Now these might not work for your bloke, but something will.

3) If there is a task that you know would be totally pointless to delegate, but you hate it, then sit down with a nice cuppa one night and have a think about how it helps you with what you value, the people you love and the things that you would love to achieve.  For example, I used to get stressed about being in a 3 storey townhouse and trying to be ‘efficient’ in always thinking of what needed to go up/downstairs before heading off.  It was a bit retentive!  Instead I realised that if I was less efficient, then I would be getting valuable exercise if I was less organised; and exercise is something that I have problems with fitting into my schedule of family/work.  It went from something that made me stressed and freaky, to just another thing that easily fitted into life.

So, what I’m saying is, forget what society says men should be doing at home.  Comparing your other half, to a fantasy picture of what he should be like, will just cause trouble between the two of you, and mean that you aren’t appreciating what you have.  In the meantime, you won’t be much fun to live with either!  Instead, work with the reality, make it work for you, not against you.

If you would like a starting hint at looking at values, there is a free audio on my website here: http://www.mummywhisperer.com/Pods_Vods.html

Let me know how you do!

Update

Had lots of comments about this one on my facebook fan page!  Many mums pointed out that sometimes when you are trying to sell helping out with things like the socks as I mentioned, that it doesn’t always have to be selling by offering a reward.  With some people offering a consequence or cost instead!  The great options were, anything left on the floor ending up in the bin, or only what is in the washing basket getting washed.

Remember, I’m not suggesting that you attempt to do EVERYTHING!  I’m just suggesting you be realistic about what you can and can’t expect from your other half.  Plus be appreciative of what they do do, rather than always complain about what they don’t do.

This works the other way as well of course, for any men reading!  Don’t expect your other female half to do things that they don’t have the skills or motivation to do.  Luckily my husband doesn’t expect me to be a cordon bleu cook, because he’d be really disappointed, just as he would be if he wanted me to be toned, tanned and a size 10 ;o)

Dangers of positive thinking

The Dangers of Positive Thinking

Dangers of positive thinkingPositive Thinking has been a popular catch phrase for sometime now, so it might surprise you to find that I’m not a fan.  Recently, there has even been scientific research into the fact that it can be detrimental to people of low self-esteem in particular.

The reason I’m not a fan is because to be Positive all the time is an impossible task, and therefore both pointless and soul destroying.  The world we live in is made of North/South, Light/Dark, Electrons/Positrons i.e. a mixture of both, and we are both happy/sad, positive and negative.  I know a really retentive guy who about 25yrs ago was really trying to be positive all the time, so he decided to record how he felt (using a scale) every 2hrs every day for 2 YEARS!  Madness!  Anyway, at the end of the 2yrs, do you know what he found out?  It all balanced out; he’d been as positive as he was negative all the way through.

If you try to be positive all the time, you are ignoring a whole aspect to yourself that is really useful, just as if you try to be nice all the time, you are not using all your skills to the fullest.  You’ll probably find the following will happen:

1) You’ll keep feeling secretly guilty because you know that you are not really being positive all the time, but just don’t want to admit it.

2) You’ll every now and again explode with repressed irritation and anger at all the people that you have been gritting your teeth around.

3) You’re kids will be behaving in a really angry/aggressive manner for no apparent reason; basically living out the frustration that you are repressing.

4) People will take you for granted because you are being ‘nice’ all the time and it will be difficult to discipline the kids.

So what do I recommend then, being negative and miserable all the time?!!  No, of course not!

What I’m suggesting is to be firstly honest with yourself about how you feel.  Be open about it, before it all comes bursting out at an inappropriate time.  If you are feeling rubbish, then have a look for the positive things in your life to balance it out.  If you are feeling positive, then have a look for the not so good things in your life, so that the universe doesn’t need to do it for you.  Plus, use your ‘less positive’ aspects ‘for good’!  What I mean is for example, embrace your mean side when you have to keep your child safe and therefore not let them go somewhere dangerous.  If you don’t feel guilty about it, you will make a much better job of it, and they will accept what you say much more easily.  It’s when we feel guilty or uncertain that things tend to go wrong.  So, think about why it is helpful to them for you to be ‘mean’?  Does it help them appreciate what they do get, or what they have?  Does it make them appreciate when you are happy?  Does it help them to understand that they will still be loved, even after someone is angry with them?  Does it give them a healthy respect for you?  Does it teach them to express how they feel as well?

When it comes to being ‘positive’, instead think of it as being ‘factual’ or ‘truthful’.  There are some negative thinking traps, which help to spiral you into feeling worse and worse about your life, plus they are plain untrue!  So have a look for these tendencies:

  1. Dwelling on the negative predominantly
  2. Jumping to conclusions
  3. Mind Reading
  4. Fortune Telling
  5. Over-Generalising
  6. Saying ‘Should’
  7. Saying ‘Must’
  8. Awfulisation
  9. Down Playing the Positive
  10. Blaming yourself for everything
  11. All or nothing thinking

Most of all, don’t feel guilty for being who you are.  I promise you will always be both good and bad, extraordinary and boring, nice and mean, kind and horrid.  That’s who you are, that’s who we all are!

Breast Feeding or Formula Feeding, What ‘should’ I do?

The whole breast feeding debate is often a Mums first introduction to the world of worrisome decisions that are about to land on their plates, and this one is particularly political and harshly debated.

Political Stances

One of the problems with any debate where people take a ‘stance’ is that the stronger they take their stance, the stronger the opposition takes the opposite stance.  To be honest, I do wonder how much the Formula companies created the NCT (National Childbirth Trust), and whether the NCT’s then strong stance has created the continued focus on formula feeding in new mums.  If possible, attempt to ignore any of the politics and focus on your family!

How Did I Tackle It?

To be honest, I had no idea whether I would manage it.  I decided to go for a goal set approach, of aiming for 6 weeks (people often say, if you can possibly do this then at least it is a ‘good start’ for baby – it gets a lot easier and less painful after this), then 6 months (WHO minimum recommended time), then 1 year, then 2 years (WHO recommended), expecting to finish before 4 years (The world wide average duration of breast feeding).  I was unlucky in that I had to stay in hospital for a few extra days after Max was born as the doctors were worried I might have the same blood problems as my Mum.  But this meant that I was lucky to encounter 2 breast feeding teachers, who were really helpful.  Plus, I didn’t have a caesarian or long traumatic birth, which appears to make it much more difficult for Mums to be able to breast feed.  The other advantage I had was that I’m good at using the internet, so could find info on the fact that you have to eat and drink well in order to produce milk.  (Beware parenting techniques that suggest anything other than feeding on demand, as that can affect your supply).

So How to Go About Making the Decision?

1) Will it work for you?

Breast feeding is incredibly easy once you are past the first few weeks.  I rather think that although it is sold as being best for baby, and very ‘earth mother’, it is actually brilliant for rather lazy Mums like me.  It worked for me, because I never had to worry about Max when he was sick, as it is much easier to BF them than give them formula when their tummies are upset.  You don’t have to worry about their weight, or constipation (horrid to see in a new baby, bless them).  There’s no getting up to make bottles at night, which would wake me up, and I’m not good at falling back to sleep.  I didn’t need to prepare anything to go out, and just needed to buy some pretty scarves.  Plus the nappies didn’t pong as bad as formula nappies.  It also meant lots of bonding and sitting on a sofa, and yummy hormones being released, which I probably needed after a rather stressful and sad pregnancy (we moved house, my Mum died, and my husband was made redundant when Max was 6 weeks).  So in all honesty, it was all about me, having the most relaxed time, and reducing the worries!

Would any of those things work for you?  Write down everything that you think will and won’t work for you, and then double check some of your assumptions in step 3.

2) Will it work for family?

Undoubtedly the scientific research is that ideally it’s best for your baby, but you are not going to ruin your baby for life by formula feeding them, even if they do get digestive or weight problems, it’s still not a ‘ruined’ life.  If you would love to feed or love not to feed, then the key here is to explain it to your partner in a way that makes sense to them, not in the way that makes sense to you!  So if your partner is worried about sharing your breasts, then pop to step 3, and find the things that will help him understand.  Perhaps there is a compromise?  Does your partner want you to feed and you don’t?  In that case, you need to explain it to them in a way that they will hear and understand.  A stressed mummy will cause greater problems for baby, than what they are fed on, so you are extremely important in the equation.

3) What Are You Worrying About?

There are some standard worries (read step 4 for some answers to the more scientific or physical ones) e.g.

– People will hate me feeding in public – actually I never encountered a problem, or if I did, I didn’t notice it.  I was mainly in coffee shops with lots of Mums and family restaurants.  If you are worried about this, think about this – do those people really matter?  Does it really matter if they stare at you?  I promise you, that whatever you do in life, only 50% of the world will agree with you or like it.  The worst thing that can happen is that they ask you to leave, which you could refuse to do!

– My partner will feel left out – if you can explain to him that it’s only a short time and will make their lives easier (if that is of value to them), then it may set their worries at rest.  Explain that your boobs will be back for them at some point!

– It’s yukky, because boobs are for sex – actually no, that’s a misunderstanding, as breasts were clearly made for making milk, as they are in animals.  What are you worried about?  That you might get turned on (extremely unlikely!!!)?  That your child will always remember your breasts (I’ve not heard of mentally scared children with this problem, and on average children are fed to 4yrs old around the world, so they must remember).  What is it?  Face your fear, and find out what it actually is based upon.

– I’m a bad mother if I don’t breast-feed – rubbish!  We are all ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mothers.  None of us do everything that we possibly could, and if we did, we would be so self-righteous and martyred, that no Child would want us!  Be a contented Mum, that is what is most important to baby and make a plan for tackling the downsides.  For example, keep a close eye on constipation, and get advice about it.  Make sure that baby gets held for long times, maybe use a sling.  Make eye contact with baby, and just cuddle them for hours on the sofa.

4) Have you read up about it?

I found this brilliant news article today, which summarises a great deal of the scientific research into breast feeding: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1201285/Sorry-breast-IS-best-As-leading-scientist-questions-benefits-mother-sorts-myths-facts.html

Check all your assumptions, because they may actually be incorrect.

5) Making the decision

Right, now you have all the information.  What I would like you to do is list all the Pro’s and Con’s (good & bad things) on a piece of paper.  It’s Ok if you keep coming back and it takes you a couple of days.  The key to this exercise is to keep going until you have AS MANY Pro’s as Con’s!  AS MANY.  It is only then that you can be sure that you are seeing it clearly.  You may wonder then, how to make the decision.  The point is that at this stage, you will see that one option works for you and the family better, and kind of ‘sparkles’.  You are aware of the opposite side to the story and can prepare for it, but your heart, feels that you would prefer this option.  It’s not logic of the head, or emotion/fear of the gut, but a heart centered feeling of sureness.  If you don’t feel sure, then keep going with the list, there is something that you haven’t included.

Conclusion

You are looking to be sure that you are informed, have cleared out the worry’s about it, and that the solution has been explained to your family in a way that works for them, and that the decision works for you and baby.

The above process is based upon the ‘Fun creation equation’, so you might like to check out my other blogs on that.  Obviously though, I’ve only brushed the surface of what can worry some Mums, or the problems of communicating with a partner.  So feel free to either pop a comment here for further clarification or post a question in the discussions on my facebook fan page.

You might want to check out my blog on why Breast Feeding isn’t always possible, to help reduce your guilt <click here>

The 6 Step Flexible Family Solution

I have created the 6 step Flexible Family Solution as an adaptable process that I can teach to Mums to deal with their unique families and ever changing daily challenges.

There are 6 steps:

1) Step 1 is for the Mum to learn what her needs are

2) Step 2 is to learn what her Family’s needs are

3) Step 3 is to clear the brain noise from the Mum’s head

4) Step 4 is to add a Reality Check

5) Step 5 is a Dash of Knowledge.

6) Step 6 is to learn to Appreciate life as it is

Step 1 – The Mum’s Needs/Values

The reason why it is so important for a Mum to understand herself and what makes her tick, is because that is the only way that she can be sure of maintaining a balance in her life and keeping herself going as well as the family.  When we are really tired from a tough time, there is only a short amount of time available to pick ourselves up.  So if we know what makes us tick, then we can find something to re-energise ourselves quickly.  Also, you can use that knowledge to push yourself to do the things you hate doing or motivate you to do what you would like to do, by linking what you know you love, to doing the tasks.  This improves our energy levels, because hating something, makes it a lot harder to achieve!  Whereas, if you have linked it to something you love, you’ll be much more up for it.  Most importantly, if you know what makes you tick, you’ll know how to balance your needs & the family’s needs, rather than putting the family first all the time (which tends to backfire big-time).

Step 2 – The Family’s Needs

This helps you to understand the difference between what they ‘Need’ for their basic survival versus ‘Want’, which is unnecessary.  Plus that being ‘Caring’ is not just doing things for people, but doing things that they would actually like you to do!  You’ll be able to negotiate more effectively with your family about those tricky things that you need them to do, as you’ll have learnt how to speak in their ‘language’, rather than your own, which could be entirely foreign to them.  Plus you’ll learn how to tackle those Worry and To Do Lists.

Step 3 – Clear Out The Brain Noise

Brain noise is all the fear, guilt, worry, shame, blame which fills up our brains and makes it difficult to think straight.  You learn how to tackle those very dangerous ‘Should’s about what life should be like and we should be like and break those fantasies that make us miserable.  We also look at tackling the beginnings of depression or feeling down (although for anyone in the depths of full blown PND, more assistance would be required).

Step 4 – Reality Check

It’s important to learn to compare yourself and your family fairly with others, rather than thinking that you are worse or better.  Our home circumstances might not be what society considers as ‘ideal’, but we can make them work for us, rather than punish ourselves for the way that it is.

Step 5 – Knowledge

Finishing off is a dash of knowledge because a little bit of knowledge is always important to give you some ideas for tackling the challenges and because you now understand your family & yourself, you can be much clearer on which options work for you.

Step 6 – Appreciate Life

It’s old fashioned, but counting our blessings has been proved to be great for our health and our day to day well being.  Learning to appreciate life as it is, adds tremendous relief and enjoyment to our lives.

We put all 6 steps in a bowl and mix in with a simple decision making process, and you have a reliable, achievable and sustainable way of tackling the daily challenges that Mums face and making those complicated decisions that we often feel so overwhelmed by.

Realistic Expectations

I’ve been thinking about how unrealistic society’s expectations are on babies & children, and the fact that I think that there are some unpleasant consequences.  I mean how confusing is it, to expect a toddler to behave maturely as quickly as possible, but then to be outraged because at 10 they want to be adults!  There was all that hoo-hah about Holly on Britain’s Got Talent, because she was given a second chance at singing (which she rocked, plus the next night – proving that she was a little professional).  Some people seemed to think that at 10, she should have the emotional maturity to understand that ‘there are no second chances’, plus have all the experience of a 40yr old at handling stressful situations – phewy!  It is well known that as humans, we take a very long time to mature and grow physically, emotionally and mentally.  Initially weeks can make a big difference, then it is months, then it is quarters, then six months, eventually years, and finally, there is probably little difference between a 100yr old and a 120yr old!  So there is a big difference between 10, 11, 12 etc.  Plus, each child matures each bit of itself at a different speed.  We can’t expect them to all grow uniformly at the same rate.  Therefore we can’t expect them to all be able to handle the same things at the same age e.g. performing on BGT.

So when you are worrying about your child and what they are or are not doing.  Double check your expectations.

Are you expecting a 6 week old baby to sleep through the night?  Maybe you could do with checking the stats on how many don’t.  Are you irritated by the trantrums of your toddler?  Have you read up on how difficult it is to learn to manage our emotions and ways of helping them?  Is your child refusing to go to bed immediately you tell them too?  Have you explained it to them in terms of what they care about e.g. racing, adventures, reading, cuddles etc or in terms of what you care about i.e. getting them to bed in time to maintain their health and your sanity?  Are you infuriated by a teen who just growls?  Did you know that the wiring in their brain means that they are less capable of recognising emotions in faces than toddlers?

By the way, this rule works for other people as well!  Are you expecting your husband to understand the ramifications of having a baby in the early months?  Sorry, many take at least a year to really get their head around it.  Are you upset because your old friends don’t seem interested in hearing about Poo?  Poo conversations are for your new Mum friends, not the singles!

Having realistic expectations of yourself, your partner, your kids, your friends, your family and your work mates, will make your life so much easier, and much less painful!

How do you do it?

– Knowledge – The internet will tell you anything and be way more up to date than any book.  So if you want to find out about baby/child/teen development, it is there, right at your finger tips.

– Ask people! – Talk to other people and get a fair comparison – then you’ll realise there probably isn’t as much difference as you thought.

– Find out what those people/children value – I’ve just done a podcast about values (see http://www.Mummywhisperer.com), and am bound to blog about it really soon.  Find out what they like, where they like it, how, why and when.  When you understand someone’s values, you can have realistic expectations.  Because they will always be loyal to their values.

Your Kids Are All As Great As Each Other

So one of the biggest worries for some Mums is whether their child is doing Ok in comparison to other children around them.  Meanwhile, other Mums are full of the fact that they think that their child is better than everyone around them.

But neither of these is possible, and over a number of blogs I hope to show you that all your kids are AS GREAT, but NOT BETTER than each other.

First a story!  I was on holiday, and Max (3yrs) was wandering around the dance floor, chatting to the other kids and investigating the snake, spider (uuurgggh), lizard and skunk that the family entertainer had brought in.  A lovely Mum next to me turned round and said ‘Oh how lovely, your son is so confident.  I look at my little boy who always holds himself back, and worry that he really is a tortured soul’.  I looked at this caring, worried mother and said ‘But does your little boy sleep’?  ‘Oh yes, I’m really lucky, he has always slept through the night, from a very young little boy’.  My answer was ‘Well, Max hasn’t slept through the night in 3yrs, so now which one is the tortured little boy’?

All our kids will be mature, agile, clever, gorgeous etc somewhere.  Just not in the same places.  But if you add up all the places that they are ‘agile’ i.e. quick and secure in getting around, you will find that your child is as ‘agile’ as the next child.  Perhaps more in maths or reading, than on the climbing frame.  Or is your child really well behaved when out in social situations, in comparison to the other child who is considered really ‘mature for his age’, but hates a restaurant.  Maybe their child is a few cm’s taller, but your child gets seen where ever they go because of their sunny disposition?

It’s wise to see your child clearly, as a lovely creature who has both things that they are brilliant and terrible at.  If you worry too much, then you are not seeing both their wonderfulness and you are wasting time and energy.  If you are proudly thinking that you child is better at everything, than others, then you will find a big and rather nasty surprise oneday, when you realise you were ignoring and not helping one of their weaker areas.

A child (just like us adults), just wants to be loved as we are.  Not despite are ‘bad’ bits, but with them.  So love them as they are, and don’t worry about how they compare.  Because if you did a fair (and well investigated) comparison, you would see that they are all perfectly imperfect.

Decisions Made Easy

The problem with making decisions is that often they go round & round in our heads, and we come at them from the perspective of which is going to be the ‘better’ one.  Here is a new way of looking at making a decision, which is from the perspective that all the decisions are Ok, and have as many ‘good’ things to them as ‘bad’, i.e. pros and cons.

By looking at it in this way, you get a couple of big benefits:

1) You can make a plan for the potential downsides of what you do pick

2) You end up picking the one that works for you at the deepest level, by combining the logic of the head, with the instinct of the gut, to join together with the wisdom at the heart.re you wondering about whether to work or not?

3) You get everything written down and out of your head, and can feel that you have made the best effort to investigate all the options

So here are the steps:

– Take all the options
– Then start to list the Pro’s and Con’s for each one – look through all areas of life and how they might be affected e.g. Physical health, Family & Relationships, Social, Mental knowledge, Work, Financial, and Spiritual/View of Life.
– Make sure that you make them specific, rather than very general by drilling them down.  E.g. If I went back to work, I would earn more money, and with that money I could do x, and x, and x and x, which would help with paying for my child to go to nursery, where they could get different input and learn about art, crafts, water play, sand etc – anything that you don’t like doing.
– The difference to this process is that you then KEEP GOING until you have AS MANY Pro’s as you have Con’s for each one
– You are only finished once all the options are equally as good as they are bad, so it’s OK to take a few days over it.
– You then make the decision, because one just feels more right, it kind of ‘sparkles’, which means it suits yours & your families values better
– The key to this is that you are combining the head, with the instinct of the gut, to get the wiseness of the heart.
– Plus you already know what the potential downsides could be, so you can make a plan of action for them.

– Take all the options

– Then start to list the Pro’s and Con’s for each one – look through all areas of life and how they might be affected e.g. Physical health, Family & Relationships, Social, Mental knowledge, Work, Financial, and Spiritual/View of Life.

– Make sure that you make them specific, rather than very general by drilling them down.  E.g. If I went back to work, I would earn more money, and with that money I could do x, and x, and x and x, which would help with paying for my child to go to nursery, where they could get different input and learn about art, crafts, water play, sand etc – anything that you don’t like doing.

– The difference to this process is that you then KEEP GOING until you have AS MANY Pro’s as you have Con’s for each one

– You are only finished once all the options are equally as good as they are bad, so it’s OK to take a few days over it.

– You then make the decision, because one just feels more right, it kind of ‘sparkles’, which means it suits yours & your families values better

Let me know how you do with trying out this technique.  I promise you it works – there’s a large multi-national company in the USA which pays a coach trained in the same system as myself $3000 per day to take them through this process when making strategic decisions!