Soft love or tough love?

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a parent?

I think there are some things I am (usually) 'good' at - both as a parent and a person - and some things I've been struggling with all my life.

 In Steve Biddulph's amazingly comprehensive book, The Complete Secrets of Happy Children he talks about the two kinds of love necessary in parenting: what he calls 'softlove' and 'firmlove'.

 Softlove is the nurturing, cuddly kind of love, and... 

 

...Firmlove is the firm, boundary-setting, 'disciplining' kind of love..

Mother carrying kitten

 

 

He suggests that people tend to be better at one or other type of 'love'.

How about you? Which do you think you are best at?

 

'Discipline' is a sensitive word, no? Some people shudder at the sound of it; others are sure the world would be a much more orderly place if only there were more discipline. When parents are having troubles with their children's behaviours, discipline will undoubtedly raise its head as a proffered solution. Which of us hasn't looked at some child behaving obnoxiously whilst the parents stood by, apparently indifferent, or indulgent, and thought: what that child really needs is a good *&!^..??? Who hasn't judged those parents for their lack of discipline, or their ineffective discipline?

I know I have.

And I know that I've also BEEN that parent.

Because I really struggle with tough love, and I always have done.

I remember watching, with some amazement, friends setting up firm boundaries around sleep, feeding, crying etc. when their children were tiny babies, because, as they said, they 'wanted to set up good habits now', and thinking: but, surely, all this little baby needs is LOVE??? Cuddles, feeding, and whispered sweet nothings. Surely DISCIPLINE is irrelevant at this stage?

You know what? Maybe it was, at that stage. But newborn babies turn into crawling one-year-old explorers, who turn into terrific two-year-old tantrum throwers, and so on it goes. At each stage they smash the preconceptions from the stage before, they push you to uncover - or quickly develop - new sets of parenting skills. If you are lucky, or well supported, you manage it, but if you don't... well, that's when the troubles begin. :-)

 

 

Now, were you to hear me yelling at my kids about their mess, about being late, being rude or whatever, you might think: she doesn't have a problem being tough with her kids. But the wisest parents will, of course, recognise in my shouting the desperation that cries: I don't know how to do this! I don't know how to do it any better than with shouting, and threats, and RESENTMENT AT THEM FOR MAKING ME DO IT.

That is something I've realised. Please don't tell me I am the only crazy parent who feels this way, but often, when I am telling my kids off for something, there is an extra shot of scathing anger and bile in there at them for MAKING ME HAVE TO DO IT.

Because I don't want to be that mum. I want to tell them once how to tidy their rooms - and then they'll just do it. I want to remind them once about their homework - and then they'll just do it. I want to remind them once, or maybe twice, about their 'pleases' and 'thank yous' and 'sorry I hurt yous' - and then they'll just do it!!!

I don't want to yell, I don't want to criticise, I don't want to punish or tell them off. I want all of us to cuddle on the sofa together, brushing each other's hair and whispering 'I love you'. That's how I thought parenting would be. 

 

And that's how I know I have a problem with discipline, boundary-setting and implementing rules.

 

 

The thing about boundaries is: you've got to get them just right. There's a goldilocks zone. Too loose, and they don't work; too tight, and they don't work -  or they cause other kinds of damage.

 So my technique is to swing wildly from one extreme to the other: patient, patient, patient... ROOOOOAAAAAAARRRRR!

 

 

How about you? Where you do sit on the soft love v. tough love fence? Do you find it easier to establish firm boundaries and rules, or to do the cuddly, nurturing stuff?

Or maybe you find it easy to do both?

Bravo, if so. Well done. Can you teach me your secrets?

 

Love Elizabeth

aka The Writing Parent

 

NB. I am now moving into a different context - teacher training. But lessons in parenting are Lessons in Life, and the same questions will follow me into this new role. I hope I will learn some helpful techniques that I can transfer across... By the by, this blog will have to go on hiatus for a year while I tackle my new professional challenge. But I hope to be back later, bigger and better! Until then, thanks SO much for reading! x.

 

 


A Philosophical rant on Brexit, Family, and the Fundamentals of Life.

    Britain's decision to leave the EU- aka Brexit- has cut across all other rational thought processes for the last 10 days.

    The shock re-hits me first thing in the morning upon awakening; it lingers at bedtime, when a sense of trust is needed to allow the semi-conscious body to relax into sleep and repair. I remember other losses, other moments of grief and anxiety, the strange feeling of life appearing outwardly the same, yet having changed unutterably.

    If this sounds extreme, preposterous, I am sure nonetheless that I am not the only one feeling these feelings. Where previous griefs have been individual, personal, localized, this one is global, communal, general, shared - by some.

    Halfway through last week I realized, however: Brexit grief is making me a bad mum. Like post-natal depression, or bereavement, chronic feelings of stress and anxiety distance you from those you love the most. You fail to LOOK at them properly, to really SEE them, as you retreat into your own dark thoughts and fears. Even though they are IT. They are the crucible of one’s greatest hopes, and fears. They are the light you fear the darkness snuffing out. I start thinking of those people who live in situations of chronic fear, uncertainty, insecurity, conflict - in this country and across the world. I look with new eyes at the comfort, prosperity, certainty of my usual life – up until 10 days ago.

    It gives new meaning to the old cliché: we are all connected. Some cannot prosper while the others don’t. In the end, we must all develop otherwise none of us develops. On some level, I have always known there were two Britains; when we came back from Switzerland I felt the inequality – felt it from the point of view of one who HAD, one of the HAVES. It is not enough to have, I keep telling myself, deep inside myself, I must also give back. But what? How? It is easy, how easy, to stay in one’s bubble. But one day the bubble bursts. Are we like the Southern slave-owners – like Scarlett O’Hara? So sure of our own entitlement that we don’t see where we take it from others? Is global capitalism a new form of enslavement? Or is that too much? Is that way over the top?

    That is not what I thought it was about. I didn’t want to stay in because of the ECONOMY. Not just because of that, anyway. I remember learning about the horrors of the Second World War – who could forget? – and the horrors of the First World War, the conflicts that pitted European state against European state. Then: the pure, sheer hopefulness of nations coming together, fighting together, this time, for peace and prosperity and all those good things. Cooperation, collaboration, compromise, community - in its largest sense.

    And for me, it worked. I grew up in England, went to school in France, studied in Scotland (and China), married a Dane and had half-Danish babies, lived in Switzerland and came back again to modern, inclusive, outward-looking Britain. That’s what I thought. The European state of Great Britain.

    It is so hard to realise that others see things in such a different way. Nothing in common.

    Or?

    Is that really so?

    The only answer, when one’s world has been rocked, is to open one’s mind. Open it to questions, open it to answers, open it to views and insights previously hidden. That is what I am trying to do now. Try to see one’s own blind spots, see past the things that were blocking before.

    And the harder I look, the more I see the same concerns on either side.

    Family/ Relationships.

    Home.

    Work.

    Identity.

    Health.

    What matters, in the end, but the quality of our closest RELATIONSHIPS? What matters, but one’s FAMILY, one’s friends, one’s relationship with oneself?

    Where do these close relationships meet? Where is their foundation, their sanctuary, their base? It is HOME. Of one sort or another. To lose one’s home is to lose almost everything. What is one’s home? ‘The place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in.’

    We leave HOME to go out to do our WORK. If we are lucky, we get to go back home again afterwards. I was shocked to read in an old journal of mine recently: ‘I have heard again and again that fulfilment can’t be gained through work’. How much I have changed. For now I believe that our greatest meaning – besides the quality of our relationships – comes through our WORK. I use work in its widest sense: professional life/ self-development/ relationship-building/ creative work/ home-making, etc..

    Through our WORK we have a sense of who we are, of what we contribute, what we have built. We learn our IDENTITY.

    And none of this is possible without our HEALTH.

    So the more I think, the more I come back to fundamentals, the more I re-realise the old cliché: we are all connected. We cannot really prosper if we don’t bring others along.

    I don’t want to patronise. 17 million Brexiters did not all share the same motivations or reasons for their voting. But I bet, for most, their reasons, like mine, relate to these fundamentals:

FAMILY _ HOME _ WORK _ IDENTITY _ HEALTH

    For myself, for my own HEALTH, IDENTITY and FAMILY life, I realized I needed to take a step back, away from the newspapers, away from social media. I needed to think about the fundamentals in my own life, remember the things that make me happy, and do more of them.

    For me, that has meant:

-          Hugging my family

-          Dancing in the living room

-          Chatting with friends (preferably not too much about Brexit)

-          Sitting outside in the sunshine – when it is out (perfidious British summer)

-          Reading inspirational writing

-          Remembering my goals, what is important TO ME and FOR ME.

-          Writing and sewing

    I took a taxi ride with a very nice taxi driver and we chatted about Brexit. He was a second- (or third-?) generation immigrant whose family came to Britain from Kashmir, and he had voted OUT. He didn’t think it was right to send so much money to other European countries when there were so many families in Britain who were struggling, and he didn’t think it was fair that the high numbers of EU immigrants made it so much harder for other immigrants – like his wife – to come over. He was used to ‘mild racist jokes’ from drunken passengers calling him a ‘Paki’ (he laughed at their ignorance: 'the disputed territory of Kashmir is neither India nor Pakistan'). Re. the upswing in reports of racism, he said: it has always been there, they are just reporting it more now since Brexit. Sensing my despair, he asked me: ‘Can’t you believe in the British people? Can’t you have faith that we can get through this, and make a bright future for ourselves?’

    What happens now, no-one knows. But what I am trying to do, for myself and my family, is:

-          To believe. That people are resourceful, and I am resourceful. (I had a dream the other night: a huge wave was crashing down on the beach around us. My daughter was in the water, and I couldn’t get to her in time. My first thought was that she was going to drown. But then I stopped myself, and thought, no. She is a strong swimmer. She can get through this. She will swim through the wave. I have to help her believe in herself. I called across to her: ‘A wave is coming. Don’t worry. You can do this. Just swim through it as you have done before. I am coming over to you. Stay where you are. You will be fine.’

-          To be the change I want to be in the world. To look for the humanness that connects us.

-          To work on my fundamentals, and recognize the need of others to work on theirs.

-          To stay away from the things that make me feel BAD, and keep practicing the things I know make me feel GOOD – good in the long-term. Things that are healing, and humanizing.

  

  And just hope.


The mercy of the clean slate

"In my experience, what interferes most strongly with a parent's wisdom in [the area of their children's social lives] are the painful memories from his or her own childhood. We all wish we could save our children from the pain we experienced, and at the same time we do not always remember exactly what happened to us."

 Michael Thompson et al., Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children

 

The overriding message of this brilliant book to parents worried about their children's social lives is: in most cases, if left to it, children will FIND THEIR OWN WAY and they WILL BE FINE.

But when is it really time to worry? What signs should we be looking out for?

If your child is withdrawn, appears to be (or feels they are) rejected by their peers, is anxious or depressed - should we just 'leave them to it', or should we step in? And what changes should we make?

All children feel rejected sometimes. I have a memory from primary school: my usual group of friends assembled at break time to play 'cowboys and Indians'. But they wouldn't let me join their game! I was confused, frustrated, sad, angry; I didn't know what I had done to deserve the rejection. I told a teacher, who tried to mediate by telling the others they must 'let Elizabeth play'.

'Alright then,' one of my friends said, once the teacher had moved on. 'You can be a buffalo.'

 

Serengeti Bueffel1.jpg

 

Perhaps some of those same friends hold memories of rejection by me which I have forgotten? (If any of them is reading this blog - please message me privately ;-)).

 

However, mostly these are blips, small tests, abnormal occurrences.

 

One of the most fascinating pieces of understanding that came out of this book, for me, is that social categorizations follow typical patterns across many groupings. It is almost as though, if you put any random group of 100 middle-school kids together, roughly 12 of them will be 'socially rejected', 40 'socially accepted', 20 of them will be 'popular' and so on.

What are the implications of this?

This implies, to me, that OUR SOCIAL STANDING IS NOT SET IN STONE. Our position in the pecking order can change and be changed. To some extent, our social status is merely an identity - a role - that we have, consciously or unconsciously, assumed, within a particular social context.

And we can re-evaluate our choices.

Have you ever experienced this yourself?  Perhaps a 'cool' kid you knew lost their status after a particular event, or, conversely, an unpopular child rose in status thanks to some artistic, sporting or other achievement?

Perhaps, in your own life, you have experienced different senses of 'belonging' - or 'not belonging' - in different group settings?

 

However, here comes the catch.

According to the authors, once these identities become established within a particular context/ environment, it can be very hard for THE GROUP to change its mind. An individual child may decide that they no longer wish to be CLASS CLOWN, but rather a serious student, or a previously rejected child may decide that they no longer accept their rejected status, but THE GROUP is primed to behave towards these individuals in a certain way, and it can be very difficult - sometimes impossible - to change THE GROUP's mind.*

 

This is where the strategy of the CLEAN SLATE comes in. Moving a child who is not thriving in one environment into a new/ different environment may be just what they need to re-invent themselves and re-shape their own identity.

I've experienced this myself, and with my own children.

In Switzerland, I was told (by another parent) that one of my children had 'social anxiety disorder' because of his extreme shyness and fear of rejection. I remember a particular incident, delivering him to the school gates, where his classmates were waiting, and seeing them all completely overlook him, as though he were invisible, whilst they greeted each of the other members of class as they arrived. It almost broke my heart.

 

 

But we moved country - moved school - and the forecast is very different. Now we arrive at school and friends - new ones and old - come up to greet him. It is heart-warming, really.

 

 

So, if your child is currently 'socially rejected' and having difficulties - take heart. Things can change. Some ideas to consider:

 

 -Talking to their teacher - find out whether they corroborate your view of things. Children can behave very differently with their parents from with their peers, as I'm sure we have all experienced.

-  We tried counselling, and I think it helped. I was initially outraged when the teacher suggested it, but found the process to be healing and helpful for all of us. So stay open to options for support and help - we all need a little extra support at different times in our lives. It is not a sign of failure. As a parent, one can easily get too close to the situation to see it clearly.

- Consider a clean slate - maybe even a change of school. I know other people for whom this has worked, and it worked for us, as I've said above. We often fear change for our children, but SOMETIMES a big change may be a positive thing for your child.**

 

I believe the BEST schools and the BEST communities provide DIVERSE outlets for individuals to grow towards their fullest potential. As parents and as human beings,  we can support this aim. 

Perhaps the most important lesson is TRUST? Believing in our child's inherent resilience and resourcefulness? We say so much when we are not speaking at all.

This wonderful book about building self-esteem amongst all family members has some great ideas on how to prime yourself to believe in your child and your own parenting.

 

What do YOU think?

Have you experienced the benefit of the 'clean slate', either for yourself or someone you know?

 

Peace love tolerance

 

Peace, tolerance, love

Elizabeth x

 

 *Though some 'whole school' strategies that focus on changing the culture of the school or institution by, for example, encouraging 'bystanders' to speak up against bullying, and promoting an accepting, compassionate mind-set have been very successful.

** Two caveats: 1) there are different schools of thought on stability/ change for children; I grew up as an 'expat kid' moving around different countries, so am more comfortable with change than a lot of people; however, as a parent I have seen my kids experience both positive and negative outcomes from switching schools (- negative when the child had previously been happy and settled, positive when the child had been rejected and withdrawn). Consider your options carefully, and trust your gut instinct as a parent - and listen to your child's views. 2) If you do move them, you can still expect a term of 'readjustment'/ acclimatisation with some teething issues along the way. Hang in there! The long-term view is important.

 

 


Sorrow and Joy

A solitary magpie has been hopping about my front lawn the past couple of days.

Of course, I am much too modern and rational to be superstitious about magpies.

I am a positivist: I believe our attitudes create our reality. Buzz off, Sorrow! I say. You are but a perspective, a frame of mind; I know you fly but a couple of wingspans away from Joy. Go find your wife and children, Mr. Magpie!

 

 

 

It's just that I had this dream about Death on Monday morning. Five or six of my old school friends all died within a short space of each other. Then I spoke to a friend who was suffering a very sudden bereavement. My husband and I decided finally to draft some wills before we go away on a 'couple's trip' this weekend without the children. And then, my husband phoned me in the middle of the day to say he'd been having severe chest pains at work and was on his way to see the doctor.

'You can buzz right off now, Sorrow.' I told the magpie. 'Don't come back til you bring Joy with you.'

 

Losing my mother very quickly and unexpectedly 8 years ago brought home the suddenness with which life can utterly change. Gone.

The bereavement counsellor told me that, when people lose loved ones suddenly like that, they can feel a strong need to hold their remaining people very close. They may have a form of separation anxiety.

It flashed before me: the unexpected future that could suddenly be mine - and the children's. The magpie's silent song.

 

The doctor diagnosed heartburn, and prescribed a series of tests for my husband to rule out anything more serious. Eat little and often, she said, and avoid smoking, excess coffee and alcohol, and spicy food.

We celebrated with a large Indian takeaway. I raised a toast with our glasses of water to 'the best little family in the world - in my opinion.' This is it, I thought: one of those rare moments when you remove the blinders to your own perfect happiness.

Within hours, I was back to hassling over reading homework, shouting at bedtime, rolling my eyes over trivial chores improperly done, and fantasising over different shades of blue with which to paint the kitchen walls.

Life is here, in the mess and the chaos, the love and irritation, the trying again.

I want to be more organized, tidier, more patient, less shouty, more successful, calmer, wiser. But, mostly, I want to be very close to them, for as long as I can.

 

 


Do aliens count?

We were at dinner, discussing curry and popadoms, school outings and pottery classes, when my oldest said:

"There aren't many things that you can know absolutely for sure, are there? I mean, most things we 'know' are just what people THINK."

Ah, the subjectivity of knowledge, that old chesnut.

His little sister said, 'But, we can know that 1+1 = 2, can't we?'

'No, but,' he says, 'that's just a way that WE have found to measure and understand certain things. I mean, if you went and talked to some aliens from another planet, perhaps they wouldn't think like that, maybe they would measure things by SIZE instead, or something like that. We don't know.'

 

Aliens count

 

So I showed them this funny clip from Friends, in which Ross and Phoebe argue the toss on gravity and evolution. If you haven't seen it, watch it here - it's a good one.

 

And a bizarre by-thought I had was: maybe I should start watching TV with the kids? Our TV has been entirely made over to the Xbox and Minecraft - we never watch TV together, but it could be fun.

Any recommendations for funny/ thought-provoking/ original TV programmes?

And I think about all the things we think we know - or ought to know - as parents, and as humans.

And how, not so many years ago, they could barely pronounce their own names. And now here we are.

 

Have a good week.

Love Elizabeth

 


Freudian

"The separation of the individual, as he grows up, from the authority of his parents is one of the most necessary achievements of his development, yet at the same time one of the most painful. It is absolutely necessary for it to take place, and we may presume that it has been achieved in some measure by everyone who has developed into a normal person."

 

Sigmund Freud, Family Romances


Operatic wisdom

I keep thinking of the wisdom in this video.

It's a singing class but, as with all profound advice, the same lessons can be transferred across many branches of life.

 

"Don't recreate what just worked... Analyse the PROCESS you went through to create that result....

Continue to open... open, open.... Go go go go go: that's how we get there."

 

Life and parenting are full of tests, and challenges - sometimes suffering.

The PROCESS - not the RESULT - is what matters. Is this true?

 

What is 'the process'?

=> open, open, open

=> go, go, go, go, go

 

Stay open. Keep going. :-)

 

Elizabeth

aka The Writing Parent

 


Ridiculous to the sublime

I was in my 11-year-old son's bed having a bedtime cuddle.

I get stuck there sometimes, because it's so warm and comfy at the end of the day, and he lies so still and thoughtful that I go off into my own evening dreams.

I was thinking about painting furniture.

'Should I use Chalk Paint or Farrow and Ball? CP is much easier but F&B has a tougher finish. But then I would have to sand and I hate sanding. So maybe chalk paint plus wax. Should we buy a new TV unit or re-purpose that little Chinese cabinet? If I could find some colourful, bohemian flower pots and put some indoor tree plants on either side of the TV unit, it could look really good. I will do a Pinterest search for 'bohemian plant pots'.'

  Painted butterflies bed

 

This is what my son was thinking about:

'I wonder whether the universe measures time? And I wonder whether there is some sort of black hole - somewhere in the galaxy, probably far away - that we could go into and see everything that has happened in the universe? But for that to happen, the universe would have to measure time differently. But it is probably not possible, because there is always a measure of time that is smaller - I mean, like underneath seconds there is a measure of time that is smaller than seconds, and so on. So it is probably not possible.'

 

 

  Universe and time

 

OKAY.

 

(I can't be 100% certain I got that down totally correctly.)

 

The conversation had begun like this.

Him: 'What are you looking at on your phone?'

Me: 'I am researching TV units and plant pots.'

'Why are you so interested in furniture?'

'Hmmm. I don't know. I am. I'm obsessed with furniture.'

Silence. Me wondering whether the woven Ragkorn pots in Ikea would do, or whether I should buy some terracotta ones and paint them myself.

Stroking his hair, and his cheeks, which I swear are as soft as they were when he was a baby.

'You have such soft skin,' I said.

He stroked his own cheek.

'Hmph. To me it feels bumpy.'

'How are you feeling?' I asked him.

'Tired.' He yawned.

'But I mean generally, in life, how are you feeling?'

'Oh. I don't know.'

He paused.

'Do you think,' he asked, 'that there is a limit to how far we can see? Like, if there were no obstacles, do you think we could just see on forever, or is there is a limit to our vision?'

'Um,'I replied. 'I don't know. We can see to the horizon? At least, when it's not cloudy.'

'Yeah, like maybe we can keep on seeing forever, or, like, until the curve of the earth becomes too great and then we can't see further.'

'Then we can see only sky,' I said.

'Yeah.'

'You ask very interesting questions,' I said.

'Yeah. Sometimes I ask myself such complicated questions that I get confused in my mind. Like, I wonder: does the universe measure time?'

 

And so on.

 

You know: those moments when you realise you know nothing about what is going on in the minds of those closest to you?

And are amazed.

 

Back to my bohemian plant pots.

 

Love Elizabeth

aka The Writing Parent


What matters to YOU?

“To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”

 Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

 

Just read this via Gretchen Rubin's blog, and it struck a chord.

 

Do you know what your own values are?

Have a look here to read more about values and think about what your own might be. It has a list (you need to scroll down) of possible 'values'. One useful exercise is to pick your top 10 from the list, and then narrow down to your top 5.

For me, this is one of those questions to ask oneself over and over again: what really matters to ME?

 

There is a lot that needs doing in the world. Sometimes it seems depressing, or overwhelming. We can't do everything, be everything all at once, but we can figure out what matters most to us and make a plan to bring those things into our lives.

 

Good luck!

Elizabeth x

AKA The Writing Parent


Making Progress

 

I am aware of a gentle flowing of positive progress  [Julia Hubbs and Nora Monaco]

 

 

River Wallpaper HD (121)

 

This is one of my favourite affirmations, because it reminds me to take a moment to stop and notice the gentle progress I may have neglected in the daily rush of life.

 In the midst of thinking about the challenges ahead, I have realised that I've made ‘gentle progress’ in two areas that are important to me.

 

For nearly 2 years now, I have been carrying a MYSTERIOUS INJURY.

There was no ‘accident’, no moment of ‘breaking’ when I suddenly realised my left hamstring and knee had moved past a point of no return.

Instead, this injury crept over me, like the gentle flowing of progress in reverse. Decline, debilitation, gentle but pernicious nonetheless.

After a lifetime of dance, yoga and MOVEMENT, I was finding exercise uncomfortable, sitting uncomfortable, sometime even sleeping uncomfortable.

For the first time in my life, I felt: OLDER. I realised how a change in the body can spark a change in the mind – for WORSE as well as for BETTER.

‘Perhaps I won’t try and live to 104 after all,’ I found myself thinking. ‘Perhaps 85 is good enough really.’

I had shaved 19 years off my own imaginary timeline! This was serious.

 

 

Anyhow, the short story is, I have seen 4 physios, an osteopath and a ‘rolfer’.

Apparently I have very bendy joints but not much strength! So I have overhauled my exercise routine, quit yoga (for a while, to allow me to re-think my movements), joined the gym, taken up swimming, and am continuing with osteopathy and rolfing.

And I am feeling… much better. Stronger, less pain, YOUNGER again! Hurrah.

 

 

The second thing is a little different. From the body to... life!

Around Christmas/ New Year, I realised that, while there were many things in my life I was happy about, my daily routine was NOT making me happy.

I was spending a lot of time at home, alone, dealing with administrative tasks.

I resolved to get out more, socialise more and exercise more.

In addition, I let my TO DO LIST slide a bit.

 

To do list

 

It is still there, in the background, but I don’t run my day by it as I was doing for a while. And I feel much FREER as a result.

Freedom is one of my key values.

And I realised I feel HAPPIER. My daily routine is joyful to me now (most days!). Knowing myself, identifying my needs and changing my habits have all helped to make me happier.

 

Freedom!

 

Of course, there are some things I haven’t made progress on.

I haven’t managed to get the children into bed earlier and up earlier in the mornings…

I haven’t convinced myself to do a daily tidy to keep on top of our mess and thereby feel better about the state of our home

 

Maybe I’m not going to be ‘perfect’ ;-).

But the more times I tell myself,

“I am aware of a gentle flowing of positive progress”...

...the more I start to notice that I really am, in many different areas of my life.

It is easy to forget sometimes – do you agree? It is easy to stay stuck in the ‘problems’.

I remember when my daughter was about 2 and a ½, and my son was 5, saying to my husband: ‘This is it! We’ve slept through the night for a few nights in a row without being woken by the children!’ Days had slipped by before I had noticed the progress we had made.

It’s Easter, Spring (in this northern hemisphere where I write): a traditional time for renewed hope and second chances.

 

Can you feel that wind – blowing away the old to make way for the new?

What ‘gentle progresses’ can or would YOU like to celebrate?

 

Elizabeth x.

AKA The Writing Parent