Category Archives for "Kara"

A new developmental stage – using my 5step process to stop motherhood stress

We had such a wonderful holiday in QLD earlier this month, and it was just the boys and me.  And I really felt at my calmest, feeling like I was on top of this mothering thing.  I even got a comment from another man on the plane who said that he travels a lot and that he was listening to me on the flight.  He called me a ‘professional mother’ (whatever that means.)  I’m not sure what I was actually doing to receive that label, but it made me feel good, and further confirmed my self-analysis that I was being the mum that I always wanted to be.

happyHowever, fast forward just one week and I felt very differently.    The kids have been fighting, wrestling and being very loud.  Cody has decided to bully and annoy his brother at any given opportunity and Ryan has amped his attitude up to an all time high with lots more ‘bum head’ labels, yelling and door slamming going on.

After finding myself feeling frustrated by this behaviour over the last week and having to work really hard (on my mindset) to stop the ‘mummy monster’ coming out, I finally stopped to assess what was going on and it suddenly occurred to me that……..We have entered a new developmental stage!

Just when we feel like we are on top of one stage with the kids, they move the goal posts and change their behaviour.

If we do not stay aware of these new and forever changing developmental stages, then we can easily become consumed by their behaviour and our lives become miserable and stressful.

In my book, The Happy Mum Handbook, I teach mums the 5 step Mind TRACK to Happiness process which you can apply to any area of parenting (or your life).  The word ‘TRACK’ is an acronym for:

T:  Thoughts – What am I thinking that is causing my stress.
R:  Reality – How are these thoughts in conflict with reality (all stress is a conflict between what you are thinking and the reality of what is actually happening).
A:  Aim – What do I want? (this is where you start to shift your attention from the problem to the solution.
C:  Choices – What are the options and solutions?  This is where you resource HOW you are going to get to your aim.
K:  Know your plan – From the choices you have found, you now create your plan of how you are going to handle this situation and move towards your goal, so you are prepared.

This process gives you 5 steps to follow that consciously shifts your mind away from being consumed by the events that occur as a parent.

Here’s how I will, and am, applying this process to my newfound developmental behaviour with my kids:

Step One:  Thoughts – I have already stopped myself and become aware of the thoughts that are going on in my mind.  These are the frustrating ‘why are you doing that’,  ‘you shouldn’t be doing that’, ‘I’ve had enough of you’, ‘I just want to get away from you kids’ type thoughts.  These are all in conflict with the reality of this new behaviour.  If I continue to allow myself to entertain this kind of thinking, it will only cause me stress.  I need to continually become aware of these thoughts and change them to be in alignment with….

Step Two:  Reality – The reality of the situation is that the kids are learning and growing and part of that is changing behaviour.  They are learning how to live in this world and learning what behaviour is appropriate and what is not.  There is a very physical process that the brain goes through where they don’t lknow how to do something as habit until they have physically grown connections in the brain that make the appropriate behaviour habit.  This takes time.  Their behaviour is not a reflection of my parenting, it is just a developmental stage that I will need to handle, so that I can teach them a better way to behave.  Which brings me to my next step.

Step Three:  Aim – What do I want?  I want to find a way to respond to this behaivour without reacting to it.  The obvious aim might be to get them to behave, however we want to be careful in this step, that you aren’t setting an aim that is not in your control.  We cannot control how someone else behaves, we can only control our own behaviour.

Step Four:  Choices – How do I find a way to respond to this behaviour.  This is where I’m up to on this process.  After assessing my thoughts and realising that what I’m thinking was causing my frustration, not the behaviour of the kids, then after realising this, changing how I viewed the situation (it’s just another developmental stage) and deciding what I want, instead of keeping my thoughts stuck on the problem, I now need to start resourcing HOW I can address this problem and work towards my aim.

So this is where I start googling, getting on forums, finding books and looking up all the different ways that other mums and ‘experts’ deal with the backchat, disrespectful behaivour and sibling rivalry.  Doing this arms me with information and options for dealing with this situaiton and more importantly helps my children to move through this phase quicker and learn respect for each other and other people.

Step Five:  Know your plan – Finally I will assess all of the different options that I have found and create a plan of how I will handle the situation next time it occurs.  Having a plan, stops my reactions to that behaviour because I know what I’m going to do about it.  Whenever the behaviour occurs, I simply start implementing my plan.

Can you see what has happened here?  We have literally shifted our mindset from being consumed by a simple developmental stage of our child, to accepting the reality of the situation, shifting our attention to the ideal of the situation and arming ourselves with information and a plan of how to tackle it.  We have become solution focussed about the problem, instead of dragged down by it.

In The Happy Mum Handbook, I go into a lot more detail about the Thoughts and Reality step, using the method taught by the Anti-depression Association of Australia, however I wanted to show you a snapshot of this method and how I still use this method in my own life.

We will never get parenting ‘right’.  Our kids are forever changing and growing and presenting us with new challenges.  We need to change with them and that means staying aware of our own reactions to their behaviour and finding appropriate ways of dealing with new behaviours as they arise, otherwise we will just continue to become consumed by the day-to-day life of being a mum.

This Mind TRACK to Happiness process is a tool to use throughout all these changes, and once you learn how to use it completely, you can stop motherhood stress, depression and anxiety.

So, on that note, please feel free to arm me with more information on how you deal with backchat and sibling rivalry, so I can begin to create my plan of attack. 🙂

Your relationship’s Happily Ever After – The reality version

After being with my gorgeous husband for over 15 years now, I can honestly say that we have had our share of ups and downs which has taught me a thing or two about how to have a successful relationship.

Especially after we had children, the dynamic of our relationship changed dramatically and we needed to find a new alignment, a new way to connect with each other, and this is not unlike other relationships too.

Contrary to the hollywood romantic films and TV shows portraying dreamy ‘happily ever after’ scenes that we all wish to have, relationships are nowhere near like this. And although we all know that in theory, it doesn’t stop us from being conditioned at some level that relationships should be all warm and fuzziness.

parents and babyBut the reality is relationships will go through their highs and lows.  When you look at anything we experience in life, there is a cycle we go through.  It is full of great parts, not so great parts, lessons that we learn, personal growth and finally, CHANGE.

As individuals we are constantly changing.  We are experiencing life and through this experience we are learning more and changing how we view life and what we want for our lives.  As we age we form different perception of events than we did when we were, say 20 years old.

This is happening for you and your husband, so it stands to reason that the way you used to interact with your partner when you first got together, may not be the same way that works for you both now.  Neither of you are thinking the same way you used to, so you certainly aren’t going to want exactly the same things from your relationship than you may have at the beginning.

If there is one thing that I have learnt it is that there needs to be constant realignment of our relationship and an awareness of what is working and what is not.

If something is not working, it simply means that some of your dynamics need to be changed. It simply means the way things were working perhaps needs to be realigned and changed.

How do you do this?

Through two key areas of relationship alignment – Communication and Negotiation

18722366_sCommunication

Now some of you may argue that communication is not a strong point in your relationship, however communication is paramount to getting through those rough times, so learning how to communicate needs to become the forefront of priorities if you want a healthy longterm relationship.

But there is an art to communication.  It’s not just about ‘listen to what is going wrong and what I want’ or ‘you do this wrong all the time’.  So here are some valuable tips for communicating with your partner:

1.  Set an intention before you start.  Think about what you want to get out of the conversation before you start talking.  For example, ‘I want to create a new and fair agreement about who does what around the house’.  When you’ve set an intention then find yourself moving into an argument, you can remind yourself of your intention and realign with that goal through the conversation.

2.  Listen to your partner’s perspective.  He has wants and needs and stuff going on for him too.  Listen with interest at how he is experiencing your relationship.  Don’t get defensive, just listen objectively.  This is how he is genuinely experiencing the situation.  You need this information in order to create a new and happy medium between you.  There is no point going over and over what is wrong in the relationship, you need to know what is not working in order to negotiate how you want it to work (I’m going to talk about negotiation in a minute).

3.  Avoid criticisms and stick to how you feel.  Talk about what sort of life you want (not how you want him to be, but how you want life to be).  Stick to your vision of your ideal life and don’t dwell on what he isn’t doing.  This is in the past.  All you have is now.  So stick to what your vision of what you want and don’t deviate into what you aren’t getting. This is very important.

4.  What’s equally important is to ask him what he wants too.  The best way to get a new alignment is to respect what both parties want and why they want it that way and then work out the best way that will get you there.

5.  Treat your partner with respect.  If your argument is that he doesn’t speak to you with respect then where does it end?  Someone has to stop the cycle of hurting each other and speaking nasty to each other.  You cannot fight with someone who does not fight back.  If you are barking or putting each other down all the time, stop it.  You be the one to stop that cycle.  Stay firm in your commitment to treat him with respect and compassion.

6.  Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Be the person that you want him to be in your relationship.  Do random things for him that show your love for him.  Treat him with the love and respect that you would like to be treated with.  Even though he may not reciprocate this immediately, his attitude will change with time, because you have stopped the cycle and treated him differently.

Negotiation

The trick to negotiation is to get what you want while the other person gets what they want.  It’s a win/win situation.  In order to make this happen you need to know two things:

1.  What do you want?

2.  What does he want?

Without this information all you have is a one sided conversation that will often end in someone feeling hard done by.  Once you know what each other wants, respect it and discuss ways that you can make both of you happy.

Realise that you are in a relationship.  This means that it’s not all about you and it can’t be all about him.  If it is one sided than also realise that this dynamic was set up in the past by both of you and this is something that needs to be changed.

Start by negotiating about something small that doesn’t carry a lot of emotional baggage with it and work on how you can come to a happy medium.

Step out of the ‘world of me’ and look at your partner as an individual, just like you.  Just like you he is seeking happiness in his life.  Just like you he is looking for happiness and contenment.  Just like you he is seeking love, kindness and peace in his life.  Just like you he is learning about life.  Just like you he is a parent of young children who has transitioned from a selfish, ‘I can do anything I want life’ into the demands of being a parent.

You are both two individuals that have come together as one united couple.  This doesn’t just work by itself.  The reality of relationships is that these two individuals that you are, are learning, growing and changing, so the unity, too must learn, grow and change.  It cannot stay the same as it was in the past.  Everything changes.

When we can stop seeing our partner as the enemy and instead see them as individuals just like ourselves that we can align with, then you will start to communicate differently with them, because it’s not just about you and what is going wrong for you or what you are missing out on.

It starts to become about what he wants too and how you can both get your needs met.  One of you needs to break the cycle of the problems in your relationship and that will only come from change.  Ask yourself, how is this current dynamic working for us right now? Then, be the one who does something different.

I’m not saying that any of this is easy, but just realising that being parents is a new experience for both of you and that some major life changes have occurred for both of you can help you to see that some major changes may need to happen in your relationship too.

For a more detailed plan for how to create an ideal relationship, then The Happy Mum Handbook also has the chapter on relationships that will help you to realign your relationship, break those vicious cycles, teach you how to communicate and negotiate and start treating each other like the loving couple you would like to be.

 

Planning your way to being a happy mum

eskimo kiss for pamphetIf you wanted to become a marathon runner how would you go about it?  You would hire a trainer or learn what you need to do, create a plan of how you were going to increase your fitness level and you would practice learning the skill of being a marathon runner, continuously improving your fitness and strengthening your muscles with repetitive exercise and training.

If you wanted to lose weight you would also have to create a plan of how you were going to do this. You might first seek help for this via a personal trainer, a gym membership and/or a nutritionist.  You would have to take a step by step process to achieving this weight loss and these steps would require cleaning out your cupboard of unhealthy foods and replacing it with healthy foods and learning to exercise, strengthening your muscles through repetition of your exercise program and gradually losing weight.

If you wanted to open a new business, you would need to learn what it takes to run a business and create a business plan.  If you wanted to save for a house, you would need a savings plan.

So why don’t we ever have a plan for how to be happy?  Let’s face it, how many of us grow up with the natural ability to go with the flow of life and not let many things faze us, like some people seem to have?

The truth is that although we all aspire to be happy in our lives, few of us contemplate how we are actually going to do this.  This may be because you don’t really know why you are unhappy in the first place.

People often think that it is events that make us unhappy, so they place their energy into trying to get that situation to change and put life ‘back on track’. After that difficult event, they may become happy for a while, but this is only until another difficult event comes up again and they feel like they are ‘off track’ again.

However, it is not these events that cause us to feel unhappy, it is how we think about these difficult events that enter our lives.  If it was the event then every person who experienced the same event (marriage breakup, difficult children, an unplanned caesarian etc) would react with the same unhappines.  But we know that this is not true.  Not everyone gets upset over these events.  Why?  Because they interpre these events differently in their mind.

The reality of life is that there are alwyas going to be ups and downs.  This you cannot change.  Life will not always go to plan and you cannot control how life unfolds.  What you can change, however is how you view the ‘down’ times with your mind.

Changing how you think about events that happen in your life and adopting a realistic and healthy mindset is the way to achieve happiness.

The road to happiness, if it is not a natural thing for you, will require a plan.  It will require assistance from people who have knowledge about how to attain it, and it will require you to learn new ways to think.  Just like losing weight it will require you to clean out your mind of unhealthy thoughts and learn which healthy thoughts to replace them with.

This plan would then require you to repeat this new healthy thinking over and over again, physically strenghtening the muscles in your mind to grow new connections, so that this new thinking becomes the strong super highway of thinking and the old, destructive, unhappy thinking becomes the goat track.

Just like anything that you desire in life you need a plan, an education on how to achieve it and dedication to practice what you have learnt until it becomes a natural skill.

In The Happy Mum Handbook, this is what I teach you to do in order to be a Happy Mum.  Through my own experiences of being an unhappy, miserable mum at home with two young boys born only 16 months apart, I have learnt off some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.  I have studied what these intelligent and wise people have to say and listened to endless tapes about how they apply this informaiton and how it works.

I have trained with the Anti-depression association of Australia and learnt how they help people to be cured from stress, depression and anxiety.

And finally, if not most importantly, I have applied this knowledge into my life every single day right in the thick of my own depression, stress and anxiety.  I am testimony that you can change into being a happy mum!

I say these things, not to boast, but to pass on my learnings and teach you that if you want to be that happy mum that you would like to be, it is going to take learning a new way to think.

Einstein said that the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting the same results.  If the reality is that we are always going to experience highs and lows in life and you are feeling like a failure, are stressed or miserable whenever you experience those lows, then you can decide to either continue with the same thinking you have always had, or you can create a plan to learn and change this thinking and try something different.

I discovered when I was in my pit of misery, that there were no resources out there that would give me that plan and help me to change my thinking. There were loads of self-help books, but none of them were in the context of raising children.  I remember thinking at the time, “It’s all very well hearing all of this wonderful motivational stuff from all these spiritual gurus, but how many of them had a 6 month old and a 16 month old to tend to?  How many of them were a stay at home mum who had limited opportunities to walk away to gather my thoughts?

So, I decided that I would apply their information to my life, see how many other ways that I could apply it, then I would write this resource for mums, so they did have a plan, written by a mum who had followed it herself and who understood the ups and downs that come with motherhood and so that other mums had the knowledge to stop doing stress, depression and anxiety.

Then end result can be found in The Happy Mum Handbook.  If you have not yet purchased The Happy Mum Handbook, then please don’t hesitate to do this now and start your new year off with a plan to combat motherhood stress and be that happy mum you would like to be.

 

Goal Setting for Mums – The top 5 reasons we don’t achieve our new year’s resolutions and how to change it so you do!

Jackie HallI love this day!  Every year I am filled with hope and motivation that this year is going to be full of excitement, achieving goals and living bigger and better than the year before….

…..but rewind 12 months ago to last new year’s day when I yet again set all of those goals to lose weight, eat healthier, be a happier person, not yell at my kids and be in a better financial position.  I look at these goals now and think, “What happened?”

Why did I not achieve the goals that I set for myself?  What got in the way?  I was so motivated and determined at the beginning of the year, so what went ‘wrong’?

Does this sound familiar?

Well, listen up close, because this could be the most important blog you ever read.  I’m not just going to tell you the top five reasons why I believe people don’t achieve their goals, I’m also going to tell you how to change it so that you do achieve your goals?

1.  I have no idea HOW to achieve my goals?

It is very common for people to set goals for themselves and have no plan of how they are going to achieve them.  They aimlessly attempt to do things towards meeting those goals, however they may find that ‘life’ gets in the way, it all seems too hard or the path towards the goal becomes too overwhelming.  Particularly if you have a rather large goal you would like to achieve, the end result seems so far away, it can be discouraging and your motivation can die off because of this discouragement.

How to overcome this block:    Break it down into doable steps.  Be as specific as you can and work your way back from the goal.  What are all the things that you need to do in order to reach your destination.  List everything you can think of, then place it in a timeline.  Create a step by step approach to your goals that you can tick off as you go.  Write them down on a sheet of paper, or better still a vision/goal board.  Create visual images of each step on your journey towards that goal.  Include how you’ll feel at each ‘milestone’, what it will look like and as you get to it, cross it off and write in big black pen ‘Thank you’, because you are grateful for getting to this point on your path towards your goal.  Know that every single step on your path towards your goal IS part of you achieving that goal.

2.  I’m too busy for me to meet these goals.

Life happens and, especially as mums, we are often guilty of putting everyone else first and ourselves last.  But honestly, who does this help?  You end up feeling hard done by, may become cranky, unhappy or like a purposeless robot.  This may result in you then being irritable towards your kids or your husband and then the whole family suffers as a result of you being unhappy.  I know that you agree with me that mums do a lot of hard work, so why not reward yourself with something for you to be inspired about.

How to overcome this block:  As a mum, you will always have a lot on your plate….always.  This is not going to change.  But let me tell you something about time.  It has little to do with time and everything to do with priorities.  What you hold as important to you is what you will make time in your life to do.  My children have learnt over the years that mummy takes time for herself, mummy takes time to work and mummy takes time to hang out, cuddle and play with the kids.  I think it is important to teach your kids that you are important to you and you are making yourself and your dreams a priority.

I don’t care if your children are newborns, or 5-10 year olds.  You are never too busy to get what you want, you only have to start making it a priority.  I know this because I spent 12 months writing a 300page workshop and building this website when my kids were just 6months old and 22months old.  While they slept, I would make it a priority to fit writing in.  This goal was something that inspired the pants off me.  So much so, that I would have as little as 5 hours sleep most nights and not feel tired. I tell you this, not to boast, but to inspire you that when you are passionate about your goals and have a plan to achieve them, you will make it a priority to spend the time on the necessary steps it takes to make it come to fruition.

3.  It’s not really what I want.

Often we set goals for things that we think we ‘should’ have, or because it will please someone else.  Goals like this are rarely achieved, because you cannot be passionate about them.  You are hardly likely to make a goal or the steps to achieve it a priority when it’s not even something that you want.  Be careful with this one, because we can be very good at convincing ourselves that this is something that we want, when it’s really not.

How to overcome this block:  Take some quiet time and imagine yourself with the goal that you have.  Put yourself in that position and visualise what life will be like when you have achieved this goal.  Does it excite you?  Does it bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart?  If the answer is no, don’t bother setting this goal.  Instead, ask yourself why you would live your life for someone else or for someone else’s beliefs for that matter, and what your payoff is for doing so…there is always a payoff for why we behave the way we do.  Once you’ve indentified that it’s not ‘your’ goal, think about something you do want, plan for it, make it a priority and go for it!!

4.  If I stumble, I have failed.

We live in a fast paced world.  We are taught that we want what we want when we want it.  We are bombarded with ‘law of attraction’ hype that tells us that all we need to do is visualise what we want and we will have it attracted to us.  We are taught to set up a plan of how to get from A to B and that we must take this direct path straight to our goal (do not pass go, do not collect $200).  We are taught, in this anxiety driven world where we think we can control and prevent everything, that if I can’t get life to go my way and I can’t get my life to go in the direction that I planned it to go, then I have failed.  If I can’t manifest or create what I’ve visualised, then I must have done something wrong, or don’t deserve it.  Then I give up and sink back into my hole, wondering why I bothered to try and achieve something beyond what I’m currently doing.

How to overcome this block:  This is where we must look at the reality of life.  While it’s great to have a goal and a plan of how to achieve it.  Life rarely goes from A to B without a hiccup.  It’s certainly great when it does go to plan, however we must be prepared for the fact that sometimes it doesn’t.  While I am a big believer in the law of attraction.  I am also aware of the law of action and the law of gestation.  Everything needs a chance to grow and sometimes you need time to learn and cultivate the soil before your dream grows and blossoms.   Also remember that life is full of ups and downs and often when we feel like we have deviated from our plotted path, we actually learn our most valuable lessons that accelerate us to getting what we want.  Often those ‘down’ times are the last hurdle we needed to overcome before we reached success.  My advice to overcome this fourth reason why we don’t achieve our goals, is to remember that just because you plan life to go a certain way, it doesn’t mean it has to go that way in order to achieve your goal.  This applies to whether you are getting your newborn into a routine, working on career goals or money goals.

Life often throws us curveballs, so that we learn, stretch past our comfort zones and grow as human beings.  We learn so much from our adversities and you can see these times as opportunities to take those learnings and replot your course towards getting your goals.  Stumbling doesn’t mean you fail, it just means it’s time to stop, re-route your path and keep striving.  Keep the image of what you want strong in your mind (and on your goal board).

5.  I don’t believe I can actually achieve this goal.  I don’t deserve it.

This is the final and biggest reason why someone fails at setting goals. I know, it seems crazy.  Why on earth would someone set a goal for themselves if they didn’t believe they could achieve it?  Because there is a big difference between wanting it and feeling worthy of it.  From the time you were a child you have been fed information and conditioning about what you deserve in life and what level of success you are likely to achieve?  I bet if you look back at what your parents believed they could achieve, you are likely living upto that same level of success.  Your mind has been taught to conceive what you can and can’t do and this is why this is the biggest block to overcome.  You must conquer the mind to conquer your dreams.

How to overcome this block:  It’s time to start learning about how to retrain your mind to think differently.  Your mind and what you are thinking within it is the key to unlocking happiness and success in your life.  You will, no doubt, have many misconceptions about your life and your worth that are stopping you from expereincing everything that you have always wanted to achieve.  Let me tell you that these thoughts are not real!  They are simply a product of repetition over years that has now become your habitual thinking about life.  The comfort level of what you think you deserve is only a learnt response and it can easily be unlearnt through new information and repetition – retraining the mind to think differently.  This is a scientific fact.

If you did a study on happy people, wealthy people or people who have achieved the very thing you may be aspiring to, you will find there is a mindset that will be common amongst all those people who have achieved those particular goals.  Study them.  Learn from them.  Do what they have done.  Infect your mind with the mindset that they had and you will no doubt start following the same path that they did to find success.  Your mind is so powerful and poisonous incorrect thoughts and beliefs about your capabilities and your level of success are the major thing that will stand in the way of achieving your goals for 2011.

Today, right now, is the time to start looking at how you can get what you want.  Don’t let life get so busy that you forget to live and enjoy the experiences that it has to offer.  The new year is the time to look around, observe what you have, be grateful for what you have and ask yourself, “What do I want to experience this year?  Is this a goal that is mine and that I am excited and passionate about?  How to I get that goal – what are the steps to achieving it?  How do I schedule (plot and scheme around my kids) to make this a priority in my life?  Who is doing what I want to do and what can I learn off them? and finally, what poisonous beliefs do I need to eradicate from my mind in order to start believing that I can have whatever I want to achieve in my life?

Ask yourself these questions seriously and the answers will send you well on your way to achieving what you want for 2011.  The Happy Mum Handbook, will also help you to retrain your mind to think differently.  It will help you plan your life, set goals, work around the kids, get rid of those poisonous beliefs and help you to start living life in the happy way you’d like to be living it – all in the context of being a mum!  And finally, this book will help you to teach your kids how to be happy in their own lives, because your life will be the living example!

I hope you have all had a happy and safe christmas/new year and wish you all the success for 2011.

Cheers
Jackie

Relax – Don’t sweat the small stuff

“Don’t cry over spilt milk”

relaxed mumWe’ve all heard this saying over and over again.  We know it in logic, but why is it that we continue to get caught up in the small stuff until we boil over or break down.

I can literally feel it in my body when I have attached myself to certain outcomes and hang onto the picture in my mind of how things were ‘supposed to go’.

I clean the house and expect it to stay tidy.  I go to bed and expect to get a full night’s sleep.  I ask the kids to get dressed and expect them to comply straight away.  I expect to eat my dinner without having to get up.  I picture the nice long, hot shower I’m going to have without having the door opened.  I picture being able to watch Oprah without noise.

None of this happens every single time the way I picture it.  In fact rarely does any of this happen.  Yet I continue to hang onto the picture in my mind that says it ‘should’ happen this way and then get all cranky when it doesn’t.

I think it’s time to just let go, relax, realise that this is the reality of parenting and that there is NOTHING I can do about it.  NOTHING, I say.  I mean I can sit here and go over and over in my head all of the reasons why I should be able to do things uninterrupted and how annoying it is that I can’t and how in the good old days I could do this and do that and be free.

However, and this is the cold, harsh reality of parenting that we MUST accept if we are going to stop motherhood stress, SOMETIMES THINGS AREN’T GOING TO GO TO PLAN!

As a mum we are constantly going to be dealing with fights, messy houses, changed plans, literally spilt milk, tantrums, sleepless nights or broken sleep and noisy, whingeing children.

This is the downside to being a parent and it’s not going to change.  However what can change is your mindset.  You have the choice to get bogged down in all this ‘not getting what you want’ mindset, or you can start to train your mind to look at things in a different way.

Here are 5 things that can help you to do this:

1.  Look at what you ARE getting out of that situation.  What is the benefit of this situation either for you or your child (they are learning, you are learning, they are healthy, this happening means……., etc)

2.  What can you do about the situation?  Yes this has happened (reality), so what am I going to do about it, rather than let your thoughts go into that unproductive internal rant that only leads to stress.

3.  How can I set me and my kids up for success?  If it’s a meal without interruption or a shower, how can you set it up so that it happens that way, rather than you just expecting it to miraculously occur (denial!).  How can I manipulate the situation to get what I want (this is where bribery….er….sorry….I mean negotiation is awesome, or distraction).

4.  When things don’t go the way you expected them too, recognise that the picture is now different to what you had envisaged in your mind and let it go.  That picture you had is not reality.  What you are experiencing is the new reality.  You MUST accept this reality to stop your stress and do not let your mind get into that destructive conversation about your preferred outcome. Once you accept this new reality, then go back to point 2.

5.  Smile.  Seriously, this will make you feel better.  Keep that smile pasted on your face until you start to feel better. There is a lot of power in this tip, so try it when you feel yourself getting stressed out.  Try to think of something funny that happened in the past while you are doing it too, as this will help the smile feel authentic.

At the end of the day, motherhood is full of some of the most unbelievably rewarding and gratifying moments life could offer, yet it is also filled with the biggest challenges life could offer.

It is always going to come down to our mindset and what we are saying to ourselves that influences how we feel about these ups and downs and it is this mindset that I urge you to (and continue to myself) work on over and over and over again so that you can enjoy more of this motherhood role instead of getting stuck in ‘what’s not happening’.

For more information on how to change your mindset, purchase your copy of The Happy Mum Handbook.

 

 

De-clutter your life to de-clutter your mind

Sad mum in bedLately I must admit that I have had my cranky boots on.  I’ve been wandering around my house cranky at the mess, cranky because I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to on my website, cranky because the kids ignore me and I have to repeat myself over and over, or threaten to take privilages away if they dont do what I ask, and cranky because where I live gets cold in summer when I am so used to constant warm weather.

Even though I have half heartedly tried to talk myself out of this crankiness, it was the words of my darling husband that turned me around.

He said, quite simply the other day when I was whingeing, “But that’s reality babe. That’s how it is.  There will always be mess to clean up. There will always be housework to do and 10 loads of washing a week to wash, dry and put away.  The kids will always be doing one thing or another that will be frustrating, so why get so upset about it.  This is reality”.

It’s funny how I could’ve said those exact words to myself, but sometimes it just doesn’t have the affect that it does when it comes from someone else’s mouth.  It really made me wake up and realise that he was right.

There will always be something that I have to do that perhaps I don’t really want to, so I have the choice to either walk around being constantly cranky, or I can just accept it and go about it in the best way I can.

After Steve made this very logical comment, I started to observe just how often I was wandering about the house doing my thing with a permanent scowl on my face.  I even laughed at myself at one point and said “Look at me grizzling away in my head getting annoyed by all this mess and all the things I’ve got to do.  What’s the point?  I have to do it anyway, so why not do it with a smile on my face.”

Another strange thing that happens when you start to put your attention on the solutions and changing your approach to things, is the answers that start to appear around you.

My mum came to visit last weekend, and she said to me (in her most non-offensive way), “I’m not picking on your house, but if you live with clutter around you all the time, you become cluttered in your head.”

I didn’t take offense to that, as I know that she was coming from a helpful place, and as I looked around my small three bedroom house, I really started to see how cluttered it really was.  Now I spend a lot of time in my house, so this clutter probably is largely contributing to my frustrations.

After my mum said that, I spoke to Steve about all the plans I had for my website and how I was pressed for time and he suggested that his parents take the kids for a few days in January to help me get on top of everything.

Feeling armed with a plan to declutter my house and time manage my work schedule a bit better, I felt empowered.

On Saturday I cleaned the back deck, caught up on the 10 loads of washing, plus folded and put them away and cleaned out the kids toy room/spare room.  I came out with 4 garbage bags of give aways and 4.5 garbage bags of rubbish – from one room!

On Sunday I relaxed a bit, but went on a big tidying spree later on so that I could wake up to a clean and tidy start to my week today.

This morning the boys had had their breakfast, got dressed, had their shoes on and their teeth brushed and ready, half an hour before we had to leave!

Over the last few weeks I have been reminded that sometimes we just need to start looking at the solutions to our problems, rather than getting stuck in them and that when we start to come out of our stressful thoughts that are in conflict with reality and we start to look around, there are loads of ways that we can change what is causing the problem.

I now have a plan for how I’m going to de-clutter the rest of the house, still work on my website, keep the house tidy and hang out with the kids and hubby.  I can do this because I have stopped looking at what’s going wrong and what I’m not getting and have started to do something about it.

I wanted to share this story with you for two reasons:

1.  Because I wanted to show you that even though I teach self help to mums, I still need to be reminded to get my head out of those frustrated unproductive thoughts that are in conflict with reality and shift my thoughts to aligning with reality and thinking about how I can change the situation.

and

2.  Because, knowing that I need reminding of this, I wanted to be the one to remind you of these important steps so that you start to become aware of your unproductive thoughts to and change them to start searching for the solution too.

Time Management is often a big issue for mums.  That’s why in The Happy Mum Handbook I help you to create a schedule that will include everything that you want in it – all housework, quality time with the kids, quality time for yourself and with your husband, work and anything else you consider important.

Have a great day and I hope your mind starts to feels as uncluttered as mine right now!

Freedom! Does that mean parenting is like a prison?

moodyThis weekend I went to the wedding of my Brother-in-law down in Lorne.  It was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been too (with the exception of mine, of course) and you could really see the intense love this couple had for each other.

We flew my mum down from Brisbane for the weekend so she could look after our kids while my husband and I went and it was the first night out together that we’d had in a long time – socialising that is.  We had had a few nights here and there where we had gone to dinner, but it had been ages since we had had a good night out with lots of other people, child free.

The afternoon of the wedding, because my husband was part of the bridal party and I was not, he was with the groom and his mates and I found myself having a relaxing afternoon with some friends that I knew who had come all the way from Kununurra, WA, none of which had any children.

It began to remind me, as I sat there enjoying a few drinks and the conversations that were flowing (complete with foxtel music, instead of Nickelodeon), how incredibly freeing it felt to just hang out and not have to get up and down to the demands of my kids.  Their lives seemed so easy and effortless and I found myself missing a little bit of my pre-child life, or at least regretting that I did not appreciate this ‘freedom’ when I had it.

The subject came around to talking about kids and I was explaining how, although it was an awesome and enjoyable experience, it was full on and it totally changed your life and things like what I was doing now felt like a mini-holiday.

Fast forward to after the wedding, and quite a few drinks later and I was at a pub with another group of girls, all of which had children between 0-5 and were enjoying their child-free night out too.  I remember saying to one of the girls there, “How free do you feel not having any kids with you tonight?  Isn’t it awesome!”

I was quite emphatic about it and as I woke up the next day, and as I sit here now typing, it occured to me just how emphatic I was.  I’m wondering, if I felt so free without my kids, does that mean I consider my life to be very restricting and prison-like when I’m with them?  Why do I feel so free when I’m away from my kids?

I mean is this the way that I view being a mother?  Sure there are lots of things you always have to do when you are a mum, but it’s really not that bad, is it?

I started to think about all the things that I love about being a mum, and of course, I would never ever want to live without them, so I just think that perhaps I need to start seriously becoming aware of how I see this role.

I can choose to see it as work, or I can choose to see it as enjoyable and look for the ‘hidden good in the bad’.

I guess I just surprised myself upon reflection that I still consider motherhood to be a lot of hard work over the enjoyment that I get from it too.  So my next job is to start teaching my mind to think about this in a different way.  Because after all, if that is where my attention is, this journey to being a happy mum is going to be a continually relentless job in itself.

I don’t want to feel like this job is hard and laborious.  In another 10 years when my boys are teenagers, I don’t want to look back at this time in my life and wish I hadn’t taken this precious time with them for granted.  It’s time I started to appreciate all the great stuff about being a mum, just a little bit more, because it’s not going to be forever that they are young and precious.  And its certainly not going to be forever that they are around me all the time and wanting my attention.  Rather than seeing this as hard work, I need to change this view to start seeing how lucky I am to be able to enjoy my kids at this age.

I need to change the way I think about my role as a mum.  In fact, even calling it a role makes it sound like a task; something I have to play.  Stuff it, I’m going to enjoy my kids while there young instead of missing a life I don’t have anymore and wishing that they would grow up and get ‘easier’.  If I change the way I think about it, then I will change what I think about, I’m sure.

What do you think?  Do you feel this sense of freedom when you are without your kids? Or do you feel pretty complete with or without them?  Let us know what your secret thinking about parenting is (and whether I may just be a normal mum thinking the same as other mums)?  I can’t wait for your feedback.

Have a great day
Jackie

PS  If you can’t see the comments section, just click on the words ‘permalink’ below.

Conversations in my mind

Okay, so today’s blog is going to make me look like I’m hearing voices and going crazy, but I wanted to share with you the type of conversations that go on in my mind these days.

child behaviour pic

Those of you that follow my blogs may sometimes wonder, with all the advice I give, “Does she really think like this all the time?” Well the answer is: No, I don’t! At least not straight away. What happens though is that I use the very tools that I teach you in The Happy Mum Handbook to change my own state of mind and realign it with the reality of the situation.
What seems to happen is that my habitual ‘looking at the glass half empty’ thinking automatically kicks in and it doesn’t usually take very long for me to become aware of it (a big alarm bell is me being cranky, down, sad or sorry for myself). I start to notice what thoughts are causing me to feel this way and begin to correct them.
Following is an example of what was just going through my head, as I went through my usual Friday ritual of cleaning the house amongst the fighting and ‘mess it up behind me’ kids.
So here’s what I was saying to myself:
“I just want to move to QLD . I’m never going to get to move to QLD if I don’t start bringing some more money in and quick. What if I have to send Cody to school here for a few weeks and then move him to QLD. That’s not fair on him. What do I do?  Where am I going to get this money from? Look at how dirty this floor is and all this clutter everywhere. I’ve had enough of this house. It’s too small. I just want a bigger house. I’ve had enough of living like this.
[Kids enter the room while I’m already frustrated by this conversation going on in my head]
Ryan:  “Mum, Cody poked me in the eye.”
Me: “Cody why did you poke Ryan in the eye”.
Cody: “Well he hit me first.”
Me: “Guys, can you just stop fighting? I’ve had enough. Just go outside and play and stop whingeing to me. Get off my floor. I’ve told you a million times not to walk on that floor and now look. There’s footprints everywhere!  Geez,  you kids are not listening lately. Now go and play or we won’t be going to the park when I’ve finished
[Exit kids – back to thinking]
“I’ve had enough of these kids. I wish were living on land where they had something to do and explore. It’s too dangerous out the front near the main road. I’m so tired. Things aren’t going the way I want them to. I’ve done the hard work. When’s it going to be my turn to enjoy my life?”
That was Whingey Me (from here on in, will be referred to as WM)
And in comes the voice of reason (who will now be referred to as VOR), “Hang on, this kind of thinking is exactly what you are helping mums to change. Is it helping you to think like this right now? How can you think about this situation in another way?
For example – in regards to the money situation, there’s nothing you can really do about that at the moment. Just the other day, you wrote on Facebook that everything rises and passes away. What about this moment. Won’t it too rise and pass away?
WM replies: “Well, yes I guess so.”
VOR: “Is there anything you can do about the money situation right now?”
WM: “Well, no”.
VOR: “Well how can you look at this situation in another way? You always write to mums to try and find the hidden good in the bad, so why don’t you try to do that right now?”
WM:  “Okay, well…….I can see that right now I have done a lot of housework and only have one room left. The kids are currently playing well and leaving me to finish it off. Then we are going to go to the park and come home to a clean house. At least I have a house. I have food in the fridge. I have a beautiful family. Some people would love to have what I have. Maybe I should concentrate more on the good stuff I have rather than everything that I’m missing out on.”
VOR: “What about Cody having to change schools so quickly. How can you look at that another way?
WM: Well, I guess that he is getting the experiences that he is meant to be getting and he will get some learning from it too. There’s nothing I can really do about it. If it works out that way, he’ll be okay. If I change my attitude on it, he will more likely change his attitude too. Obviously if that scenario plays out that he has to start school down here, then he will come across people who will all add learning for his development and that’s great too.”
VOR: “Great. Now you are on a roll, now finally about the money. What are you going to do about that?”
WM:  “Well, right now, there is not much I can do. I am doing everything I can and I can only wait until this money phase of my life passes away and a new phase is born. I’m certainly doing everything that I can to change it and am working hard, as is Steve, so all we can do is keep searching for the opportunities to change our current circumstances and continue to keep searching for what we currently have and be happy with that, rather than feeling sorry for myself and putting all my attention on my ‘lacking life’. “
VOR: “Excellent. So tell me, how do you feel now?”
WM: “Much better. I guess there is no point in dwelling on what I don’t have. It’s not going to make it appear any quicker when I do, so what’s the point? It only makes me feel crappy, not enjoy the kids and pushes me further from the goal as my attention isn’t on what the solution is.
So I just need to focus more on what I am getting instead and remember that everything has a life span where it does come and go and know that this current situation isn’t forever – then I will feel  much better …..not to mention be a better mum than the barking, sulky mum I have been this morning. Thanks voice of reason.”
[End of conversation]
It is normal for me to go through this whole to and fro type of conversation where I become aware of what I’m saying to myself that causes me to feel stressed or down, then going through different ways of changing my viewpoint.
I hope you have found this dialogue useful and helpful to remember that change comes with practice and continual application of the tools that I teach. You will never get life right (or parenting for that matter), because we are always learning, growing and evolving as human beings.  I, too am learning everyday and there is no miracle cure for being 24/7 happy, because happiness is a state of mind and its not one that will always be achieved every minute of the day.
We all have limiting beliefs that stop us from achieving this state of mind, and all that means is that we have more to learn and beliefs to change. But the key to change is in identifying these limiting beliefs and changing them, so keep at it.
For more information on how to change your thinking in the context of being a mum, purchase your copy of The Happy Mum Handbook.
Have a great day
Jackie

New Mother Nightmare #1 – I don’t love my baby

1193957_mThere is a common experience amongst many mums who have suffered from postnatnal depression.

This experience is the feeling that “I don’t love my baby”.

If you start to look around at the influences from society and media about having babies, there is definately a hollywood style influence on how we ‘should’ feel when we first hold our babies as a new mother.  It’s not dissimilar to the hollywood fluff of ‘love at first sight’ and ‘the happily ever after’ scenes.

Yet how many of us who have partners/husbands now, actually fell in love with them the second you laid eyes on them?

The reality is that in many cases, there was a connection to some degree with your partner but the emotional connection grew over time as you got to know them.

This is the same as what can happen with your child.  You cannot ever deny that there is a connection, because that is automatic when you have the child.  Whether you consciously feel this connection or not,  it is there, right in the DNA that they hold that is yours, physically passed down by you!

So you already have a connection to some degree with your baby and over time this connection will grow into love.

However we often hold these expectations of gazing into this little ones eyes when we first meet and being flooded with an intense emotion and overwhelming sense of love and connection immediately.  We created this expectation before ever having been a mother at all, or even having any experiential concept of how life was going to change when becoming a new mother.

If you have had a traumatic birth, are having trouble adjusting to lack of sleep, pain from breastfeeding, juggling all the demands of this new life and complete change of lifestyle from what you are used to and generally feeling overwhelmed by everything, these are not very good grounds for falling in love.

Tell me, if you were single (in your pre-child days) and you had worked double shifts at work, were lacking in sleep, were recovering from a major operation where you were in pain but you couldn’t take time off work, were constantly being hounded by your boss and trying to learn a new procedure that totally relied on you in order for the project to be success – would you even be thinking about another person, let alone having the energy to love them?

I think not!

We are inherently selfish human beings.  Everything that we do is in the best interests of ourselves 100% of the time.  So our mind’s primary priority is going to be to protect our selves from pain.  If you are having feeling stressed or exhausted by everything and have a mindset telling you how terrible a mother you are, this causes us pain, so our our mind’s priority is going to try and stop this pain through emotion and irrational responses.  This is going to impact on your ability to feel any sort of love and affection for this little baby (or for anyone else for that matter).

It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, it just means that you don’t have the capacity to feel love for them, because there is a whole lot of other stuff going on in your mind, causing you to feel a whole lot of other emotions right now.

But because of our expectations of the way we ‘should’ love our child from the second they are born, mums often feel like there is something wrong with them and that they have failed as a mum if they do not feel love for them, but the reality is that it is near impossible to feel that emotion, if you are feeling like you are not coping with this new transition.

The answer is not to beat yourself up over this lack of feeling, but instead, understand that it is how you are perceiving your motherhood experiences that is causing the wall between you and the baby, not because you are a bad person, or a useless mother.

What you need is some help in being able to get an accurate sense of reality in respect to this new motherhood role.  Love is felt to varying degrees all of the time, not this warm and fuzzy love and joy that comes with the Huggies ads we all see.

Love is felt when we are at a place where we have the space in our minds to feel love, not when it’s cluttered with stress, anxiety and uncertainty about a big change in our lives.

Perhaps you have an unrealistic expectation of what this mother/baby love ‘should’ feel like.  Ask yourself, what exactly ‘should’ this mother/baby love look like.  Am I meant to be feeling it 24/7 and everytime I look at my baby?  Because that to me, sounds unrealistic.  Do we look at our partners/husbands with intense love every time we see them or talk to them?

If you have this expectation in your mind of this beautiful, warm love for your baby, can you see that this is not possible if you are feeling stressed, run down, tired and basically feeling like this ‘looking after baby gig’ is a lot of work and no play, resenting the days that never end and sorely missing the easy, free life you used to have?

There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t immediately love your baby, it is simply an indication that perhaps you have some bigger issues that are cluttering your mind and stopping you from accessing those feelings for your baby.

The answer lies in learning to change the way you are thinking about this new role and altering those expectations you are trying to live up to that are not realistic, rather than beating yourself up for this lack of feeling

These are the things that I teach in The Happy Mum Handbook.  It’s never the events that cause us stress, it’s how we perceive these events and what we perceive they mean about me (I am a bad mother).

Please know that we are always learning new skills and having a child is a HUGE change from the way life used to be.  This requires a complete change in the way we expect life to be like.  We need to change the picture and make a deliberate adjustment in our minds, while also learning (over time), the best ways to do things.

You are always doing the best you can and your lack of love for your baby is not because you don’t love them, it’s just because you can’t see it yet for all the fog in your mind.  When you change what you look at, what you look at changes.

If you’re feeling guilty about not loving your baby the way you think you ‘should’, please give yourself a big hug (yes I mean literally), and remind yourself to take it easy – you have got a lot going on and you just need to give yourself the time and space to find your new sense of ‘normal’.

Lots of love and hugs to you and your babies

Jackie

Forcing our children to grow up!

Why is it really that we get so stressed out about motherhood?  Is it because we are constantly expecting our children to behave in an adult way?

mother attached to childSome of you may have seen the quote that I posted on Facebook today, which was given to me by a very wise mum.  She said, “You can stand and plead/scream/yell/cry at a flower all day to bloom, but until the timing is right, that flower is not going to mature.”

But, do we forget this vital piece of information and constantly picture in our minds their behaviour being different?

The problem is that we are looking at life through our own lenses.  We have had 20-40 years (depending on your age) of life experience and so we already know what is expected of us, the appropriate way to behave and how to treat people.

Our children do not know this yet and have yet to learn these lessons of life.  If you look at a 60-70 year old and compare them to a 18-25 year old, again you will find a difference in the way they behave and the way they think.

We need to consider this when dealing with and looking at the behaviour of our own children.  We cannot expect them to behave in the way that we think they should, because they may not yet comprehend that that is the way to behave.

Even if you have told them a thousand times not to do something, then it is only because they have not yet learnt that lesson as habit. 

If your child is a baby, then let them be babies.  Babies cry, have very little communication skills, cannot fend for themselves and are demanding, because that is where they are at in their developmental stage.

Toddlers are learning to walk, talk, explore and experience life for the first time independently and they are going to push boundaries in order to estbalish what they can and can’t do. 

Pre-schoolers and primary school children are establishing their independence and their place in the world.  They are going to try out backchat, anger, nastiness, friendliness and they are learning what the consequences are for behaving the way they do.  They are learning about their emotions and how to interact with other people.

As you can see, and I’m sure you know already, once they reach one developmental stage, then they start working on another one.  Isn’t that what we do too?  Aren’t you forever learning and growing as a person?  Are you the same person that you were even just 12 months ago?

So why is it that we expect our children to get life right and to be perfectly behaved, when they don’t even have half the life experience that we have had, and let’s face it, when are we always perfectly behaved 24/7?

The answer is simply because we are looking at their behaviour through our life experience, not theirs.  Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what’s going on for them, no matter what age they are.  Try to take your hat of knowledge off and put theirs on and you may just begin to understand their behaviour better.

When you do this and you get a realistic perspective of their behaviour, it starts to make sense, instead of their behaviour meaning that they are a ‘naughty’ child, or that you are a bad mother.  Their is always a priority for them behaving the way that they do and more often then not, it is simply because of their lack of maturity and lack of life knowledge.

All their behviour means is that this is where they are at in their journey of their life. That’s it!  End of story!

I hope this perspective helps you to widen back from your child’s behaviour today and start to enjoy their innocence and find an acceptance for this individual human being just trying to get through their day the best way they know how.

Have a great day

Jackie

For more information on how you can keep changing your thoughts to avoid motherhood stress, grab your copy of The Happy Mum Handbook now for only $29.95

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