Autism Is Not A Gift

Autism is not a gift.

I wish my child didn’t have ASD…

I’m tired of seeing people write about how they wouldn’t change their child because autism is part of them and a gift.

Well I call bs on that.
A gift?

Autism is not a gift.

But my child is gifted.

Agree or not autism IS a disability.

It is not always debilitating but it is not something people would put on a wish list.

But it’s also something I never spend time wishing away.

We are on this autism journey for life whether we like it or not.

But it will not define my son.

Just as depression or cancer or asthma or diabetes doesn’t define who you are.

Autism is nothing to be ashamed of.

Not ever.

But it also isn’t something I’d wish for.

It’s a complicated life living with ASD.

And one we’ve fully embraced for years even pre-diagnosis.

But boy would I eradicate it if I could.

Labels are razors. Change is gut wrenching. Habits are heart breaking. Anxiety is vile. Water is scary. Clothes are never right. Socks are chaos. Public toilets are septic tanks. Sensory overload is torture.

Are people glad their children suffer any of these things when they say that ASD is a gift?

I don’t think so. I think they’re scared and winging it like the rest of us.

My boy has ASD and he is autistic.

We love him beyond love.

I don’t see his ASD as him.

I see his struggles and we tackle them head on daily, sometimes hourly.

I don’t want him to say his ASD is a gift, instead I want him to see it as a challenge.

I want him to take pride in his bravery, his resilience, his achievements.

I want him to know he isn’t just his disability.

But I can’t let him think ASD is a gift.

It’s a pretty naff “gift”.

We’ll keep calling it a challenge because autism is not a gift.

Helping Children With Anxiety

Anxiety is such an overused term in todays world, but if you really suffer with anxiety issues then you know it’s no light hearted matter. In fact it’s horrendous and debilitating. This is why it is so important to help children with anxiety.

Different things affect different people, but during your life you’ll no doubt experience anxiety on some level. Circumstances can make us anxious, waiting for news can make us anxious, rollercoasters can make us anxious, the unknown can make us anxious, but these soon pass. Anxiety as a diagnosis does not pass. It can lie dormant for years, and then it can attack out of the blue. It can consume your every waking thought. It can lurk within the night sky. It can be anywhere, at anytime. The only certain thing about anxiety is that it’s uncertain.

I’ve suffered from anxiety for a few years now, which I take medication for, but it only takes the edge from it. Some days I don’t have many anxious thoughts, other days they suffocate me, even in my sleep. It’s not conscious worry, it’s a suffocating feeling. It makes your heart feel like it missed a beat. It feels like you can’t breathe in deep enough. It feels like the world’s in slow-motion. It feels like a million things. It gives you irrational thoughts. It turns paper cuts into septic wounds. It turns headaches in tumours. It turns a cough into a terminal illness. It turns people into vindictive evil doers. It turns school runs into catastrophic events. It puts an invisible force fields around front doors. It imagines the worst of each scenario and then replays them in your head. It remembers words you spoke five years ago over and over again. It makes you restless. It’s erratic, irrational, but it’s unstoppable. Sometimes you can grip it, and sometimes you can’t.

As an adult I have come to understand my anxiety, but it still scares the hell out of me sometimes. The lack of control over it is one of the worst parts for me. It may all be in my head, but my whole body reacts to it. And the same is true with children. My eldest suffers with anxiety, it’s alongside his ASD so they often intertwine. It breaks my heart seeing his anxiety arise and not being able to take it away from him. BUT I am determined to help him understand it and deal with it in the moment. It’s been a long learning process for me, so I’m going to impart all I’ve learnt to him at an early age. Even now I can see a huge difference in his response to things.

A good self esteem can help battle anxiety. I don’t have a good self esteem. I battle that everyday. So I’m determined to ensure my boys have a healthy concept of themselves, it’s so important.

We, my husband and I, do so many things at home to help our children have a healthy view of themselves. I think it’s fundamental in having a healthy childhood. I often leave little notes on their door telling them reasons we think they’re amazing, or a note under their pillows to remind them they’re loved. These are such simple things, but have a mighty impact upon their hearts and minds. We cuddle, we say I love you out loud, a lot. We have random ta parties just because, I print ‘I love you’ on their toast, I make them certificates and stickers. All these little thins let them know they,re thought of and cared for.

I try to teach them that they don’t need to aim for perfection. I always tell them they just have to try their best at things and that not everybody is amazing at everything, and that’s ok. I don’t put pressure on them academically, we try to make things fun. THEY are not a spelling test score, THEY are not a maths score. They are loved, and important despite scores.

We also made some strength jars last year – they worked amazing and still do today. I got them to write down things they like about themselves and things they are good at and then put them into a jar to keep on the shelf in our lounge. Their faces beam when they reread them and add to them. It’s a good self-esteem boost for them.

I teach them the power of encouragement and we often play a little game where we have to tell each other one nice thing or pay each other a compliment. This helps them realise it feels good to be kind too.

Self esteem is so important in helping anxiety, it is a key component of being able to battle it head on.

When my seven year old is particularly anxious he licks his lips and chews his sleeves, so we have fidget toys on hand to help occupy his hands and channel his anxiety in a healthier way. These work time and time again. He also takes one to school. We have a bucket full of them. We have egg timers, liquid timers, lights, squishy toys, Jacobs ladders, rubix cubes, putty, marble mazes, exercise elastics, so any things, and they all help. We will often use this bucket of fidget and relaxation toys for five minutes before they go to sleep to help relax them and turn their little minds into sleep mode. Both of my children enjoy this bucket of toys, not just the one with anxiety, they’re a very good calming tool.

Reassurance is also a big key in helping your child learn to deal with anxiety. Anxiety gives you such irrational thoughts, and even though you know they’re irrational your mind still convinces you they’re real. It makes you feel like you’re being stupid, so it’s hard to verbalise them, but it’s so important to. Reassure them it’s ok, and if it worries them then it’s never silly. After years of reassurance my boy now tells us his worries more often than not and often without prompting. This enables you to work through them logically with them an give them a technique to try and bat away the anxious thoughts.

We also have a Worry Monster. It’s worked wonders! My boys can write down what’s bothering them and then pop it into the worry monsters mouth and zip it up. It’s like a way to vent and release I guess, and it also gives you a chance to read their worries and further help them.

When anxiety strikes it can conjure up so many emotions and even as an adult it’s confusing, so imagine how hard it is for children. We purchased little a keying fob of faces and emotions for our boy to look through and figure out which ones he felt. He loves this. It helps him ground his feelings and put a name to them, even if he is feeling a mixture of four at once.

If your child suffers with anxiety then I’d advise you to seek medical help and also talk to their school. You know your child better than anybody and anxiety is not something to take lightly, if dealt with properly it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Children are resilient creatures and with the right help they can get a handle on their anxiety. But the help doesn’t just start and end with professionals. There are so many things you can do at home to help them, like all the activities and items I’ve listed here in this post. There are also lots of books out their for children to better understand their anxiety. This helps lift the shame barrier too, and helps them to understand they’re not different, just facing a different challenge to some of their friends.

Anxiety is not nice, but it doesn’t have to define you.

The Spirited Wild Child

I have a very spirited child. He is unique and wild in every way. I love this about him, but it also drives me to the brink of insanity. He is fearless. I am not. It leads you to question your parenting skills and abilities time and time again. BUT I’ve come to realise we are not alone, not at all.

Do you have a spirited, wild child? Does any of the following sound familiar?…

The Spirited Child…

They break the boundaries and don’t look back.

They leap without looking and thrive on looking down.

They are drawn to chaos and feel peaceful when messiest.

They fervently listen but do the opposite to what’s expected.

They love adrenaline rushes despite the consequences it may lead to.

They drive you to the edge of insanity but then entice you back in with a well timed snuggle and cheeky smile.

They defy every notion you hold of a child and their behaviour, yet their individuality is what makes them so adorable.

They live for the moment and instant gratification is more desired than a promise of later luxury.

They see the ‘wet paint’ sign but have to check its truth.

They hear you say something is hot but they need first hand experience of the temperature just to clarify it in their own minds.

They hear the words ‘No more!’ but they have to do it one more time.

They understand patience but not how to practice it.

They understand bath foam is to clean yourself with but they eat it anyway.

They think with their body and not with their brains.

Their nature is strong willed, and stubborn, and fierce.

The future is in their hands, they do not fear.

They leave you exasperated, astounded, surprised, fearful, and often in despair.

They are the future. A strong, bold future.

Their ‘wild’ is their biggest strength.

Their ‘spiritedness’ is their super power.

Sound familiar? Buckle down momma. Sit tight Daddy. You’re in for one helluva ride.

Choose your battles, but never battle their spirit. They’re gonna need that spirit. The world out there is tough.

It’s gonna be hard. It already is hard. BUT their spirit is evolving, and time will do the taming.

Cling on.

You’re not a failure, you’re privileged to be raising up a world changer.

The Truth About A Caesarean Section

I’ve had two Caesarean Sections in the last seven years, and both were planned. They had a lot of similarities, but also a lot of differences. My first caesarean section was at 36+5 weeks due to issues with my blood pressure and spinal pressure. I didn’t know what to expect, no amount of googling prepared me. It all seemed so surreal on the morning waiting to be prepped for theatre. They made me wear some support stockings after I had my hospital gown on. Wow they are awkward to get on! And so unattractive. I was told not to wear nail varnish or makeup, so I made sure I fake tanned the day before! I did also have my nails done and my toes pedicured, but hey, each to their own I guess. I didn’t want to feel totally rank.

I remember walking down to theatre and sitting on a large metal bed. It felt freezing. The anaesthetist explained the procedure of the anaesthetic, and I remember trembling. I have a phobia of needles in my spine after several lumbar punctures in the previous years. After a few attempts they put the spinal block in and lay me down whilst it started working. They then covered me up and fitted a screen, and then let my husband in.

Its all a little blurred to be honest now. I remember looking up at the lights and feeling like I was in a dream. The doctors kept chatting to me and my husband like this was normal. It was so not normal. We were going to be parents! I was petrified. Thy literally told me step by step as they were doing things; the incision, the bursting of my waters. They then said you can expect to feel a tugging sensation shortly. And that I surely did! It was the weirdest experience ever. I felt some tugging inside of me yet couldn’t actually feel it. It didn’t hurt though, not at all. And within minutes they told me my little boy was here and they swaddled him up and checked him over. Thy handed him to my husband who brought him over to me. He was scrumptious.

My little bundle of joy then got whisked away with his daddy whilst I was stitched back up, it was the longest 30 minutes of my life! I remember going back into the recovery room to see my husband and meet our little man properly, and it felt weird, odd, they literally left us to it. What do I do? So, I tried to feed him, unsuccessfully but I tried.

I was then taken back up on the maternity ward and filled with pain relief. They then washed me. I was totally numb, so that was a little weird. Dignity totally gone by now! I actually felt ok, and after 10 hours they got me up out of bed and walking around. I recovered really quickly, and was home 36 hours later, and shopping after being home 48 hours. My c-section healed really nicely and my stitches dissolved quickly. All in all it was ok and not as painful as I had anticipated. Laughing and coughing hurt though, so, so bad, but the more it hurt the more you laugh. And I won’t explain the post-baby poop you do, because my goodness, brace yourselves because it’s like squeezing a melon through a keyhole, that’s all I’m saying! They need to write this in birthing books, it’s quite an horrific part!

My second caesarean section, however, was not a good experience. Not at all. Seven days before my planned section I fell down the stairs and broke my ankle. Baby was fine but my ankle was not. I broke it in a place that wouldn’t heal if weight was put onto it, so I had to not use it at all. Can you imagine being nine months pregnant and trying to hop? It was vile. I couldn’t get up stairs or anything. It was 7 days from hell, and then I went in to have my section. It then got delayed by 2 days. I was an emotional wreck and in so much agony with my ankle it was unreal. Then the C-section happened, the spinal block and then the baby being born. All good. They then stapled me up instead of stitches and fitted a drain to stop infection. A whole new experience for me. What followed was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I think I was so high on the pain meds for my ankle that nothing touched the sides when it came to my caesarean wound. I was totally out of it yet it excruciating agony. I don’t really remember much of the first day or the visitors. I couldn’t get out of bed when I needed to. The drain hurt to be taken out on day 3, and I ended up in hospital for 6 days, and was still in agony. Once I was home I still then had my ankle boot cast on for 4 more weeks, so couldn’t start this new journey as I’d hoped. My staples hurt, even more so when I had to use one leg. And the post-baby poop -jeez! I will say though I was petrified of my midwife coming to my house and removing my staples, but it actually didn’t hurt at all.

With my first caesarean sectionI had never heard of post-contractions. and thankfully I didn’t get any, but with my second C-section I had contractions 7 days after my operation. I’ve never experienced anything  like it, the staples did not help. After a few hours and an emergency phone call they settled. I wish somebody had warned me. So, here’s your warning.

So, there you go, two very different caesarean section experiences. The truth, no false bravado etc. A caesarean section is definitely not easy, but sometimes it is easier than other times. But it’s doable. Just talk to people who’ve experienced it and not just written a book about it.

Here’s a few necessities to remember when having a caesarean section (they’ll make you feel slightly less gross):

Dry shampoo

Drinks

A book

BIG HUGE comfortable underpants

Moisturiser

Face wipes

Mints

Hope my truth about my caesarean section helped a little.

How Good Is Your Bedtime Routine?

Bedtime, bedtime, bedtime. The meaning of which changes once you become a parent, don’t you think? It becomes horrific, I know some people have a smooth ride and their baby is a dream and sleeps through etc, but balls to those people! Just kidding. A little! The bedtime routine has aways been such a touchy subject here. I’ve been graced with two very different children.

Child one, never wanted to sleep, not ever. Well, ok, he did. For 45 minutes at a time. Even through the night! It was exhausting. It was excruciating. It was horrid. And no amount of advice could help me out. I tried everything, and I mean everything. My baby didn’t care about advice. He just liked to cry, and in turn it seemed he liked to make me cry, usually on the bathroom floor at 4am when another night had passed us by without any sleep. I was on the brink of losing my sanity totally. I was told it would just last a  weeks, and then a few months, and then years? Years? Were these people actually full on kidding me or what? We tried baths, and lotions, and massages, and soothing music, we also tried yelling. Sleep deprivation makes you angry. It ruins those precious moments. So if you’re going through a time when your kids don’t sleep then don’t despair, you are normal, they are normal (unless they’re in pain then seek GP advice if you’re unsure), and it will definitely pass, one day. When that day will be who knows? Some days I wonder myself and mine are now 5 and 7!

My youngest co-slept with us for three and a half years, it was the only way he would sleep. And when you’re not getting any sleep, any sleep is sleep! This was our bedtime routine. People tell you co-sleeping is terrible and you make a rod for your own back. So, I used to tell them that if they found this rod I could put up my back could they let me know as it would make a lovely stand-up sleep aid! They never did find one!

At three and a half my child then transferred to his own room with his little brother in, and it was a miracle and we all slept happily ever after. Pfft, did we heck! I had to sit in that room until he fell asleep, hours and hours each night, there was no other solution. My child is autistic, it takes him 2 – 3 hours to drift off to sleep. That bedroom floor was crippling, and draining, but a momma has to do what a momma has to do. He’d then wake every few hours and needed reassurance to calm his screams. This went on for 3 more years.

We also had another little boy to get into a routine, but he was easy, he was no bother, he slept through the night from week 3 and on his own too. He was a dream. And then he turned 2, and it brought out the wild in him, a wild that is obviously never going to disappear, but I love his wild streak. Most of the time. Most of the time except bedtime when he thinks he is hilarious being an idiot to try and stall bedtime, but instead just infuriates us beyond furious. Then story time ends up being a circus.

Bedtime here is at 7pm after a bedtime routine of a hot bath and a story. Sometimes it happens at 7, and sometimes I’m chasing a naked Tasmanian devil around the landing, bawling my head off for him to get into bed and stop the nonsense. Bedtimes are often chaotic, and I’m left wondering what I’m doing wrong? We have no electronic devices after dinner, and they don’t have a tv in their room. We have a bath and a story and they have classical music on to go to sleep. And then it hits me. I am doing NOTHING wrong, nothing at all, they’re kids, they’re all different. And this is our routine, an often chaotic one, but a routine. Both kids, once in bed, generally drift off to sleep. The youngest has to shout 25 minutes worth of ailments (I’ve got a rash or I’ve got chicken pox or I have a sore bum or I’ve got something in my eye or I’m blocked up I can’t breathe etc etc) and the eldest lies there whispering for a few hours drifting off to sleep, but they sleep through. Did you read that? THEY SLEEP THROUGH!!! ur bedtime routine worked! Ha! Dreams do come true! Well, they have here, kind of. I mean they still get up early but not at the ass crack of dawn like they did for 5 years, so i’ll take that!

Bedtime isn’t perfect, and people who have perfect bed times, well, I don’t know any people who have, do you? And if you do then don’t believe them! Or maybe I am jealous? Either way bedtime mostly sucks, but is also my favourite time of day! After 7 years I think we have almost cracked it!

In-A-Minute Parenting

Life is busy, add children into the equation and it is crazy busy. Careers, house keeping, families, health issues, errands, chores, appointments, school, courses; there is just SO much going on! As a momma I know there is always something that needs doing, always.

There is always a grazed knee that needs kissing, a spillage that needs mopping, a letter that needs opening, a bill that needs paying, a snack that needs preparing, a call that needs making, a coffee that needs drinking, a pee that needs taking, a diaper that needs changing, clothes that need ironing, a lawn that needs mowing, hair that needs washing, a floor that needs sweeping, a car that needs cleaning, a meal that needs preparing, a job that needs attending, a list that needs completing, shopping that needs fetching, laundry that needs washing, laundry that needs drying, a fight that needs refereeing, and a poop that needs scooping (out the bath)!

Life as a parent is a whirlwind of fleeing from one thing to the next. Our time becomes so consumed with ‘doing’ that we rarely just ‘do’. I am a nightmare for this. I will start one job, and then see something else that needs doing so will start that job, and then will see something else that needs doing so will start that job too. This then leaves a trail of half-started jobs, and leaves me feeling more unaccomplished than when I started the very first job. It’s a viscous circle I visit hourly! Anybody else?

Often during the day I will try and catchup on a few chores whilst the children play, they’ll often say “Mummy I want you to play with me!”, and I will say “In a minute, I’m just cleaning first”. They often go away with a sad glint in their eye and I feel like a bad momma. Obviously sometimes there are certain things that I have to do, but there are a lot of other times when my kids matter more.

If I counted how many times I said ‘In a minute’ during one day I think I would be ashamed of myself.

Today my 3yo fetched an interactive puzzle from his toy shelf and asked if I would help him. I had literally just sat down with a cup of tea, so naturally I said “I will do it with you in a minute!”. He didn’t even question me, he just looked sad and went to put the puzzle back on his shelf. An instant wave of guilt and regret surged through my momma bear heart, and I thought ‘Hell no have I just hurt my babies feelings just so I can drink a cup of tea, the tea will be there tomorrow, this moment with my baby boy will not!’ I called my 3yo back and said “Actually no, we will do the puzzle now like you wanted!”. His face lit up. He felt worthwhile. I added another drop of self-esteem to his confidence bucket. I would give up all the tea in the world, infact I’d give up anything in the world to spend time with my boys.

In that moment, seeing my little boy walk away and not even attempt the puzzle alone because he wanted to do something with his momma, I had a big fat slap in the face. How many times did my children hear ‘in a minute’? Too many was the answer. The puzzle took ten minutes, and after we had finished it he happily played with his cooking set alone for thirty minutes, win-win situation there. My tea can be reheated, his little spirit is not so easily fixed, that’s why I had to change my mind.

When my 4yo asks me to read him a story when I am half way through an important email I will no longer say ‘in a minute’. The email recipient will not remember the hour I sent them an email reply, but my 4yo will remember the moment momma was too busy to read him a story. I am busy being a momma, not too busy to be a momma.

From now on I vow to be present, and vow to play.

Dishes can wait, emails can wait, social media can wait, everything can wait, everything but time. Time is precious, and I intend to make our time count. I will be the ever-ready momma, the ever-present momma. No more in-a-minute parenting!

Anybody with me?

Rubbish Advice For Parents

When you become a parent you, unwillingly, attract the opinion of everybody you meet. Some people mean well, and others most definitely do not. You get advice during pregnancy, during the newborn weeks, during the terrible two’s, potty training advice, sleep advice, diet advice, school advice, advice about absolutely everything, and it drives you absolutely out of your mind!

Here is some of that advice I received during the first two years and what I thought about it…

“Get all the sleep you can before they arrive!”

Sleep?!? What is sleep? You lie down you have heart burn. You stand up you need a wee. You lie down and baby wakes up, with hiccups. You can’t lie on your side because it makes your hips hurt, you can’t lie on your back because you’ve heard it’s bad for the baby, you obviously can’t lie on your front because it is physically impossible 8 months pregnant. A pillow in between your legs is good, for 5 minutes, and then it’s back to aggravation about not being tired anymore, yet you’re exhausted. You take another swig of indigestion liquid and try again. Repeat all night long, every night. You try and nap in the day but the postman always knocks the door, or somebody visits, or you need to do the housework, or the thought of the ironing pile is making you have palpitations, and before you know it the day has gone and you didn’t catch up on any of this sleep you’re supposed to take advantage of when your baby is still in your belly.

Don’t let them them sleep in your bed, you’ll make a rod for your own back!”

What is this rod? Would it make a good pole to hang off and get some sleep because if it would then chances are a rod on my own back is just what I need. We all have different children, my first needed to sleep with momma, and my second needed his own space, and I obliged to both! Why you may ask? Because what it all boiled down to was I NEEDED SLEEP, and I didnt care how it came, I just needed it. So, unless you’re in my house babysitting at midnight and 1am and 2amm and 3am and 4am mind your own business about that rod on my back!

“Breastfeeding is better for your baby”

Breast is great, bottle is great, both ere food for my baby, and I’ll decide which is better for us both. I can’t even look at my nipples right now let alone imagine something using them to get their grub four hundred times a day, so don’t booby judge me!

“Let them cry it out!”

I tried this once, for 30 minutes, and I ended up crying worse than my baby, and I have never to this day done it again, I just cannot condition my child into knowing that if they cry it is useless because I wont come back until it’s morning. This is my choice, you have your own choices.

“Sleep when baby sleeps!”

Here’s a joke for you – Sleep…you don’t get it? Neither do I!

Six years on and I am still exhausted. Sleep when baby sleeps, say what?! So we better clean when baby cleans, and iron when baby irons, and food shop when baby food shops, and dust when baby dusts, and empty the trash when the baby empties the trash right? Just forget about sleep, at least for the first few years anyway! Sorry to rain on your parade, but it is normal.

Don’t keep picking him up you’ll spoil him!”

I’ll spoil him? With cuddles and love? Good! I want to, a baby never got spoilt by too much love. You cannot have too much love. My baby, my heart, my rules.

“Only give them homemade organic food.”

So, we tried this for a while, and it nearly made us bankrupt this organic stuff, joking, but you get my drift! Those pouches of freshly prepared food are amazing and convenient, and a momma needs convenience. There is hardly time to pee let alone whip up homemade cuisine daily. Don’t pouch judge me!

They should be potty trained by now (aged 2)!”

No way should they! They are all different, and until they are ready no amount of persuasion or anger or determination from you will potty train them, there are no rules, you have to follow their lead. I tried to listen to somebody’s advice once, and my floor was covered in pee on the hour every hour for 48 hours! And did Mrs Advice come help clean it up? Did she heck!

“Is he not walking yet? My child walked at 8 months!”

This backhanded advice really grates me! It’s like we have to have uniform children who reach each milestone at the same rate. No, my child walked at 13 months and my other child was too lazy to walk until they were 20 months, and both are doing just fine. Maybe your 8 month old has had enough of your comparing and needed to learn to walk to get away quicker! Oops, did I type that?

Don’t give your child a pacifier / dummy, it will ruin their teeth and slow down their speech development!”

Well both of mine had one, and they’re just fine, in fact they don’t ever stop talking, and I mean ever! I loved that pacifier like it was a child, it gave me a few minutes of peace when they were upset about teething, or they were tired and I couldn’t hold them both at the same time, or I just simply needed 2 minutes peace to buy a new jumper to replace the maternity one I was still wearing 18 months into being a mum!

Don’t ever let your children have candy!”

Have you seen the power of bribery a lollipop holds? It speaks for itself! Who’s with me?

 

Have you had any unwanted advice that was a load of rubbish? I’d love to hear it!

 

Does Your Child Have Good Self Esteem?

Does your child have good self esteem? I ask myself this question so many times, and have done since my babies were newly born. How do you even tell? Sometimes I don’t think you can tell, and other times it is pretty obvious.

Children are born with various personalities, some is nature and some is nurture. A LOT is nurture. As a care giver we have a huge responsibility to help these little beings and big beings figure out their self worth, and in my opinion it is one of the most important jobs you will ever have. It literally has the power of life or death. No pressure then huh?! It used to worry me endlessly, but now it doesn’t. I do everything in my power to make sure my boys have a healthy self esteem.

Self esteem is not something that happens overnight, it’s years and years of life endeavours, task failures, successes, losses, obstacles, learning, and battles. Self esteem is something you cultivate and nurture over a period of time, and the younger you start the better.

I don’t particularly have a very good self esteem but I’m working on it. Life has not often been kind to my self esteem so it hasn’t grown as well as it should have, which is why I am determined that my children will have a good sense of self worth. And I think they have.

How can you cultivate self worth in children?

Children are so impressionable from such a young age so praise is very important. It shows you care, that they did well and tried their best, and it encourages them to try again next time. I am a firm believer in praise. It goes a long way. I don’t buy into the ‘tough love’ regime, and never will. Love isn’t tough.

If my children fail, I am there telling them to try again, and again, even if its over a few days or weeks or months. Teach them not to quit, but that it’s ok to fail if we pick ourselves up and try again. Tell them that unless you make a mistake you never learn anything. Mistakes are ok, lying in defeat is not. Help them build their stamina.

Don’t do everything for your children, as tempting as it may be. Let them do things by themselves, encourage them to try, and if they cannot manage the task then tell them you will help them because they tried their best first. They will surprise you and themselves! I promise!

Teach them to write their failures in the sand and their successes upon the rocks.

Tell them you love them, often. Never let them wonder. Even if you were raised without those words do not let your children live their life never hearing them. Cuddle them. Tell them things you like about them. Tell them you love being their momma etc. Tell them. Every single day tell them! Leave them a note. Press a heart into their toast. Let them know you think about them.

If your child struggles with self esteem try a Strength Jar. This is simply a jar filled with pieces of paper, and upon these pieces of paper you get your child to write down all the things they are good at and like about themselves, and you can write them too. One you’re finished read through them weekly, and place on a shelf within reach. My boys really loved this activity and still look at them a year on!

Choose your words carefully. I know kids can drive us insane and we all get irate and say things we don’t mean but just make sure you apologise when you need too. Words can hurt but apologies are a great medicine. You are never too old to apologise. It will teach your child a good lesson in forgiveness and empathy too.

No app can replace your lap.

Read with your kids. Knowing you want to spend time with them will do their heart the world of good. Even 5 minutes a day will make the difference. It will widen their imagination too which is a very good thing!

If they ask for a cuddle give them a cuddle. If they ask for a second cuddle give them a second cuddle. If they ask for a third cuddle…get my drift? Life is too short to not give them that third cuddle. Tomorrow is not promised to anybody and I sure as hell do not want to wish I’d have cuddled my child for a third time and are no longer be able to. Hearts are breaking around this world for lost loved ones, so cherish the ones you have whilst you have them.

Teach them that we are all unique. Teach them it’s ok to be different and that it doesn’t make us less. Teach them about the importance of being kind and compassionate. Teach them to sit with the lonely. Teach them to look out for others. Teach them to help. Teach them be assertive. Teach them about mental health and self care. Teach them to be a good human being. Teach them that their best IS good enough.

Teach them that academic ability is NOT the most important thing in life.

Listen to their worries, their concerns. It may be little things, to them they are big things. When you listen to the little concerns, you validate them. This will go a long way in raising your children to never suffer in silence.

Raising children is the most important job you could have ever been given, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when you’re exhausted, even when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel, keep going, keep learning, keep loving.

To the Parents Raising Boys

I am Momma Bear to two boys, two very different yet very similar boys. Before I became a parent, I had no idea about raising boys. I am, well I was, a girly girl. I loved all things pink, glittery, and Barbie (sad I know). Then BAM, I was given two boys, and my gosh are they different to anything I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. Gross has been given a whole new definition! I’m also an only child so I have no idea about sibling reationships either, so this has been a big learning curve for me!

Some days I look at my little boys and swoon over them, and other days I am ready to fly kick them through the window (joke)! This mothering gig is hard, and if you say otherwise then we can’t be friends! Just kidding, well kidding a little. I thought I’d share some of the things I have discovered over the last 5 years.

Boys like to wrestle! A lot! Well, mine do, and I am assured by my husband that this is normal, despite my panic. They wrestle when they’re happy and they wrestle when they’re mad. A simple board game always results in wrestling of some form. Puzzles end up in someone being sat on. train track building results in someone in a headlock. watching a DVD ends in someone being thrown onto the sofa, tea time ends in someone being dragged onto the floor, and retrieving the post from the postman always end up in a death grip around one another. They wrestle from sun up, until sun down. And you now what? It’s normal! Don’t beat yourself up thinking you’ve raised wild animals, they’ll grow out of it. (I hope!)

Boys like to play with their ‘winky’! Winky, tiddler, privates, tail, willy, penis, whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter, they will play with it, squeeze it, pretend it can talk, grab it (even in public), and sometimes put things around it (A friend of mine caught her boy putting a Hula Hoop (brand of English chips) on his!), dance naked proudly shaking it, and will think nothing of talking about it very loudly. This is still something that shocks me, but I better get used to it!

Boys like to climb! My boys climb on everything, it doesn’t matter if it’s two centimetres or two metres. They climb on walls, fences, fallen tees, standing trees, benches, tables, chairs, ledges, rocks, curbs, the sofa, stools, tv units, and generally anything that you’re not supposed to climb on. They also enjoy climbing on people. This climbing gives me heart palpitations, especially with y 3yo who does not see any danger. I am not sure they ever grow out of this need to climb either?!

Boys find trumping hilarious! Trumps, farts, botty burps, wind, whatever you call it, it all stinks the same! What is it about wind that boys find s funny? I will never understand this one. The louder, the funnier, apparently!

Boys get their pee everywhere! Pee in pants, pee on the bathroom floor, pee on their hands, pee on the toilet seat, pee on one another, pee everywhere, even in the bath. Little boys have a very hit and miss aim!

Boys eat bogeys! (and enjoy them!) This is self-explanatory. Vom!

Boys are hoarders! My boys pick up anything they find and assume it’s treasure! Old raisins, pennies, elastic bands, beads, hairpins, ear buds, anything. They are sneaky about it too, my 5yo especially. They shove it  in pockets, or hide it in their toys. They are like little pirates hiding their treasure!

Boys can wreck a room in under 60 seconds! I never remember this either until it is too late. I have no idea how a room can be trashed in such a short space of time. It is a record in itself! Rest assured if you have boys you will know this already! Sixty seconds to trash it, 3 hours and drive-mummy-insane-moaning to tidy it up!

And last but not least
Boys LOVE being loved!
Hats off to all the parents out there raising boys (and girls of course!)