Dear Daughter… on your first day of school.

You’re leaving the nest to make memories of days filled with childhood innocence, fun playdates and the beginning of beautiful life long friendships. Exploration, adventures and big dreams. In the next few years of your life you’ll learn lots of things. From maths, to science and literacy to lessons on life. There will be ups and there will be downs. Mummy won’t be able to fix everything, although she wishes she could, but she will always have your back. Together we’ll celebrate the good stuff and we’ll talk about the tough stuff. And in between there’ll still be lots of tickles and giggles and never a shortage of cuddles.

I thought I knew the meaning of true love when I met your daddy. Then I had your brother. And then… I had you. You’re a huge ray of sunshine that lights up my life just like your brother. The last five years have been so beautiful and you’re growing up so quickly that part of me wants to keep you this size.

You’re patient and forgiving with a big beautiful heart that is wide open. Your smile and your big green eyes make me melt.

So far your career choices have been pink rainbow fairy, a pink alien and a mummy just like me. Mummy thinks that’s awesome and she doesn’t mind what you want to be, as long as you are you, you love yourself, respect yourself, try your best and do something you love. Your favourite colour was pink but now everything has to be purple. You love drawing and painting – mainly rainbows, happy faces and our family. You love butterflies, and crystals and fairies but you’ll happily play boy games olymptrade.com with your brother too. Actually, you’re really easygoing. You still get up during the night to sleep with mummy and daddy. You bring an entourage of companions with you – pink giraffe, pink poodle and rainbow bear usually. And when I ask you why you poke me with your feet you tell me it’s because you want to be warm. I get it. I love our cuddles just like you do. As much as I’d like for you to sleep in your bed all night, I secretly don’t mind, because I know that there’ll come a time when you’ll grow out of the night visits just like your brother.

Last week you told me you loved me. You told me “It just keeps going. Never stops.” Right back at you sweetheart. Mummy loves you. So so so much. Hope you’re having a beautiful first day of primary school.

It’s only 10am and I miss you already. The house is so quiet. And today I don’t mind that there are toys on the floor and fingerprints on everything. When you ask me why my eyes are red, one day I’ll show you this letter and you’ll know why.

Love Mummy

How did you go with the back to school stuff? Were there tears? What kind?

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Back to School Tips Part 2

Today we’re bringing you Part 2 of our two part series on Back to School Tips thanks to  Elise Wald, Clinical Psychologist and Jo Harris, Play Therapist and our friends at Kimochis… Toys with Feelings Inside®.

Is it normal for parents to experience separation anxiety and what would your advice be to parents?

Yes, absolutely. The best advice would be to anticipate this anxiety and put in place some support strategies to help you to deal with your own anxiety. Most importantly, keep communication with your child concise and clear – even if you feel nervous or stressed, try to maintain a matter of fact approach to school. Show a confident demeanor about your child attending school and be positive that they will have a great day. Nevertheless, it’s important to validate your child’s feelings and to acknowledge that everyone feels a little worried at times.

Is separation anxiety an indicator that a child isn’t ready for school?

Not necessarily. It’s entirely dependent on the individual child and their ability to cope with, and manage their emotions. If your child hasn’t settled after the first hour following school drop off, and if the problem is persisting beyond the first four weeks of term, this may be a sign that they are not yet ready for the demands of school. This will be particularly evident when they find it difficult to effectively engage and participate in school.

It’s important to note that effective intervention either prior to, or during the initial period of transition may help your child move past this quite quickly and settle down. It’s imperative that you assess your child’s behaviour in the context of what’s happening in their lives generally and outside of school – it may well be another issue that’s affecting their ability to settle at school. Remember you’re the expert when it comes to your child and if you feel that there’s something going on, then seek assistance.

How long can a parent expect separation anxiety to last, and when might professional help be required (if at all?)

For kinder children, they can usually be expected to settle within the first two weeks of kinder. Children beginning prep can usually expect to settle into a comfortable routine within one month of starting school. For children who are not settling within these periods, parents should initially speak to the teacher to work out a plan that will assist the child. If this doesn’t work, parents should consider speaking to a professional.

Elise Wald, MA Psych (Health) MAPS, Clinical Psychologist 

www.centre4inspiration.com.au

Elise has a passion for developing strengths and motivating others. She is particularly interested in the field of mindfulness and wellbeing. Her special interests are adjustment and behavioural change, self-esteem, emotional intelligence and sleep psychology. She works eclectically drawing on CBT, mindfulness and positive psychology. Elise works with children, adolescents and adults. Elise also conducts training for practitioners in social emotional learning using the Kimochis system, sleep therapy and change coaching.

Jo Harris, BA Childhood Studies Play Therapy, Play Therapist

www.centre4inspiration.com.au

Jo is a qualified early childhood practitioner with over 15 years experience working with children as a kindergarten teacher and director in Melbourne, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Jo has a special interest in supporting young children in their emotional development, with a passion for developing a love of learning and discovery through play. Jo is a member of Play Therapy International and Play Therapy Australasia.

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Back to School Tips Part 1

Today we’re bringing you Part 1 of a two part series on Back to School Tips thanks to  Elise Wald, Clinical Psychologist, Jo Harris, Play Therapist and our friends at Kimochis… Toys with Feelings Inside®.


What’s your best piece of advice for parents who have children that are experiencing separation anxiety when starting school or kinder?

Try to organise play dates with other children attending the same kinder or school as familiarity helps build self-esteem and confidence. Your child will feel comforted by knowing they have someone to play with. If it’s not possible to organise a play date, try a car pooling arrangement with another family who has children attending the same school or kinder – again, this will help your child feel more secure.

Give your child something small that reminds them of you to take to school or kinder. This could be a photo, a piece of your jewelry, or a favourite teddy or toy (if the school will allow).

Specialised therapy toys are also available to assist with separation anxiety. These are called ‘Nesting Heart’ from Kimochis (meaning ‘feelings’ in Japanese). Nesting Heart is a soft, velvety smiling heart nestled inside another ‘holding’ heart that helps children feel connected to you when you’re separated – your child keeps one half of the heart either in their pocket or school bag and you keep the other (www.kimochis.com.au).

Talk to your child about creating a statement they can say to themselves when they feel anxious. Some examples include, “I can be brave,” “I am doing ok,” “it will get easier,” “mum/dad will be back and are thinking of me,” “mum/dad are always in my heart like I am in theirs” etc.

Reassure your child in encouraging tones that you will be back to collect them after school and make sure you let them know who will be collecting them.

Ensure that school drop off is a quick process – don’t linger or enter into any bargaining arrangements. Remember that this will only increase your anxiety, which in turn, will increase your child’s anxiety.

Discuss any concerns you have with your child’s teacher or the school counselor so that they can encourage your child to settle and feel safe.

What are the signs that a 4-6 year old child is experiencing separation anxiety and how can parents best deal with this?

It’s fairly normal for both you and your child to feel anxious about starting school or kinder. It’s important to recognise that this is a period of transition for the whole family. Most 4-6 year old children are able to draw on their inner resources to settle into school life and to feel safe and secure once they’ve started school or kinder. For most children, this period of unrest only lasts for the first few hours of school/kinder.

However, a small percentage of children in this age group will suffer significant anxiety about separating from you. You should seek advice or assistance if this persists for more than four weeks, or if it’s impacting on your child’s ability to engage in school activities.

Another sign to look for is if your child indicates excessive and persistent concerns about harm befalling you. You should look out for any somatic symptoms such as stomachaches, headaches, loss of appetite, problems with sleeping, nausea or vomiting.

You should also pay attention to the level of your child’s refusal to go to school as well as their anxiety when at home in a room without you.

If you notice these signs persisting for four or more weeks, it’s recommended that you speak to your GP, the school counselor, teacher, play therapist or psychologist as soon as possible. It’s also worth considering a preventative intervention plan if you know your child is prone to feeling anxious without you.

It’s important to maintain a steady routine for the first four weeks of school or kinder. Your child will benefit from being able to predict the routine and it’s also helpful to create a pictorial calendar of daily events that you and your child can integrate into their daily routine. In addition, if your child is prone to anxiety, try to keep any other activities to a minimum and avoid starting new extra curricular activities for at least the first four weeks of the school term.

Monitor your own anxieties about how your child is coping and speak to someone who can assist you if need be. Chatting to other parents with children at school can also prove very helpful.

Elise Wald, MA Psych (Health) MAPS, Clinical Psychologist 

www.centre4inspiration.com.au

Elise has a passion for developing strengths and motivating others. She is particularly interested in the field of mindfulness and wellbeing. Her special interests are adjustment and behavioural change, self-esteem, emotional intelligence and sleep psychology. She works eclectically drawing on CBT, mindfulness and positive psychology. Elise works with children, adolescents and adults. Elise also conducts training for practitioners in social emotional learning using the Kimochis system, sleep therapy and change coaching.

Jo Harris, BA Childhood Studies Play Therapy, Play Therapist

www.centre4inspiration.com.au

Jo is a qualified early childhood practitioner with over 15 years experience working with children as a kindergarten teacher and director in Melbourne, the United Kingdom and Belgium. Jo has a special interest in supporting young children in their emotional development, with a passion for developing a love of learning and discovery through play. Jo is a member of Play Therapy International and Play Therapy Australasia.

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School Jitters & Nesting Hearts

As the holidays draw to a close, I’m starting to feel the jitters. Those feelings many mothers feel as their youngest children leave the nest and ask themselves “What’s next?” I’ve answered the “What’s next?” question but I don’t know how I’m going to fill the house with the little giggles and big green eyes that belong to who I still see as my baby. She’s the little one and I thought these days would be so far away but now they’re finally here.

Nesting Hearts by Kimochis

Last year I found the perfect tool to help not only me, but my little girl to ease the separation we’ll feel as she walks through those school doors. Nesting Heart by Kimochis is a soft and velvety smiling heart nestled inside another holding heart. As soon as I was told about these gorgeous hearts by our friends at Kimochis, I knew I needed one and I knew this would be the perfect way to ease the transition into school. The concept behind Nesting Heart is that they are a physical and emotional symbol to help children feel connected to their loved ones at times of separation. So I’ll be sending off my little girl with a reminder that “even though we’re apart, you are always in my heart!”

I plan on holding my Nesting Heart close in those first days as I settle into a quiet house, most likely with a packet of tissues and copious cups of tea until I get around to patting myself on a job well done for raising two amazing children to school age, whilst feeling excited about the extra “me” time.

How are you feeling about your little one/s going off to school? Have you planned anything to make the transition easier?

Until next time,

Vanessa
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* Mindful Parenting has not received payment for the purpose of reviewing Nesting Hearts by Kimochis but was lucky enough to receive a complimentary Nesting Heart. We will only ever mention and recommend products we wholeheartedly believe in… just like this one.

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The Chemical Maze

One of the big questions that comes up for people when they’re starting out Going Additive Free is how to start and how to know what’s ok and what’s not. It can be really daunting and sometimes fall into that “too hard basket” because understanding additives and what goes into our food is something that is confusing for many of us.

But learning about additives and how they can be harmful is one of the ways we can become more informed so that we can make informed choices on what we choose to consume and eliminate from our diets or our cosmetic shelves. Bill Statham has written a book which is a fantastic resource called The Chemical Maze. Essentially this pocket sized book is a shopping companion that you can easily refer to whilst you’re out shopping. Not only does it list food additives but it also has a section on safe and unsafe cosmetic ingredients. 

In addition to the book, you can now also get The Chemical Maze App which can be downloaded via the AppStore for iPhone or GooglePlay for Android.

 

We have a couple of copies of The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion to give away to two readers. Just comment below telling us why you’d like a copy by the 29th January for your chance to get your hands on one.

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Introducing the Mindful Moments Journal Project

Mindful Parenting in conjunction with Leaf. Paper for Life are pleased to present…

THE MINDFUL MOMENTS JOURNAL PROJECT

{Creating Happiness Through Gratitude}

Featuring Child Behaviour Consultant, Nathalie Brown of Easy Peasy Kids

What is THE MINDFUL MOMENTS JOURNAL PROJECT?

Sign up for updates from Mindful Parenting & Leaf Journals and receive your FREE copy of Mindful Moments. You can opt out of mailings at any time.

This is a project you can embark on that helps you build a daily practice of GRATITUDE and the embracing of MINDFUL MOMENTS as a family.

- Build your child’s self confidence & contentment
- Build a greater understanding & appreciation of your kids
- Keep a record for the future of their growth, creativity & daily lives
- Record your own thoughts & reflections on parenting
- Practise & experience gratitude as a tool for greater happiness, fulfilment and contentment

Sign up for updates from Leaf Journals and Mindful Parenting to receive your FREE Mindful Moments eBook jam packed with juicy tips on how to start your own Mindful Moments Journal Project! You will receive a download link for the eBook. You can unsubscribe from updates at any time.



Includes:

- Step by Step Instructions on How to Start Your Own Mindful Moments Journal Project with Your Family

- Tips for Positive Open Discussion with Kids by Nathalie Brown, Child Behaviour Consultant (Easy Peasy Kids)

- Tips on Practising Gratitude

- Positive Emotions List

- Thank You Pages, Printables & Emotion Stickers

 THE AUTHORS 

Cath Connell, of Leaf. Paper for Life, Vanessa Carnevale, Publisher/Editor of Mindful Parenting and Nathalie Brown, Child Behaviour Consultant at Easy Peasy Kids, collaborated to put together this wonderful eBook, that’s filled with pages containing ideas and practical and fun ways of embracing the concept and practice of GRATITUDE and the capturing of life’s daily MINDFUL MOMENTS.

 You can read more about capturing Mindful Moments in the Summer issue of Mindful Parenting Magazine where Cath Connell shares her personal insight on capturing Mindful Moments and practising gratitude with children.

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Summer Issue is OUT NOW!

It’s OUT NOW!

Our Summer issue is here and it’s JAM PACKED full of juicy articles and bursts of inspiration!

MPMSUMMERCOVERSMALL

Featuring:

  • An Honest Conversation with TV News Presenter, Jessica Rowe on motherhood and her experience with PND.
  • Fertilise Yourself: Tips on fertility boosting foods from Natural Fertility Educator and Natural Health Expert, Natalie Kringoudis
  • Rhiannon Colarossi, Founder of The Wellbeing Web, talks about The Value of Wellbeing
  • Tips on Creating a Happy New Mind by Author of Wired for Life and Founder of Mind Gardener, Susan Pearse
  • We’ve also got articles on the topics of home swapping, mother guilt, keeping calm for the kids, behaviour and lots more uplifting and helpful info that you’re used to reading about in each issue.

AND… We’re SUPER excited to be bringing you a FREE eBook called Mindful Moments, a collaboration between myself, Cath Connell of Leaf. Paper for Life, and featuring tips from Child Behaviour Consultant, Nathalie Brown of Easy Peasy Kids. You can read more about Cath’s Mindful Moments Journal Project story in this issue of the mag.

You can start reading your copy of the Summer issue of the mag via INSTANT PDF DOWNLOAD by subscribing here.

For more info on The Mindful Moments Journal Project and to get your FREE copy of the eBook CLICK HERE

YOU CAN PREVIEW THE ISSUE BELOW


Until next time,

Vanessa

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Summer Issue Mindful Parenting Magazine

MPMSUMMERCOVERSMALLWe’re so excited to be bringing you the Summer issue of Mindful Parenting magazine; out tomorrow! I have had such an amazing three months putting this issue together and collaborating with some awesome women who not only inspire me but have shared their wonderful wisdom and knowledge with us through their articles. What I love about the mag is that we bring together articles that not only relate to motherhood, but they also relate to life and we keep it real. My hope is that everyone who reads the mag will find something that resonates deeply with them on some level whether that’s a tip for fertility, or a wow moment, or a message that you just needed to hear to know you’re doing a wonderful job as a parent and you’re not alone.

The Summer Issue is jam packed with juicy articles and bursts of inspiration!

We’re featuring:MPMJ1

An Honest Conversation about motherhood and PND with TV News Presenter, Jessica Rowe

Tips on how to stock your pantry full of fertility boosting foods by Nat Kringoudis.

We talk wellbeing with Rhiannon Colarossi, Founder of The Wellbeing Web and Jo Turner gives us some tips on Mealtimes Without Mayhem.

You can also read about the topic of Mother Guilt, How to start the year with a “Happy New Mind”, children and behaviour and heaps more! We also have a surprise that will be revealed tomorrow which is a collaboration between myself, Cath Connell of Leaf Journals and Nathalie Brown, Child Behaviour Consultant of Easy Peasy Kids.

PREVIEW THE SUMMER ISSUE BELOW

If you’re not already subscribed, you can purchase your 12 Month Annual Subscription for $19.95 and you’ll receive this issue instantly by PDF Download!

Add to Cart

For more information on subscriptions CLICK HERE

Please comment and let me know your thoughts on the issue and if you’ve found it’s inspired, helped or put a smile on your face – please be sure to hit one of the share buttons below.

Until next time,

Vanessa

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Additive Free Birthday Parties

by Kim Bayne

Children’s birthday parties are one of the most joyous celebrations of parenting. A child turning one year older provides us with the chance to reflect on how much our children have grown and matured in the previous twelve months. Children learn at a very early age that parties mean party food and unfortunately, traditional party foods can be full of food additives that can cause adverse reactions in little bodies.

Bright colours attract children, and thickeners, gums and binding agents enable food like chicken and fish to be cooked in appealing shapes, yet some of the most widely used additives are not well tolerated by young children. This sort of presentation makes food fun and children are more likely to eat it.

The great news is that children’s party food can be additive free.  The key is including a variety of fresh foods whilst making it look great!

Here is my sample menu for a children’s birthday party

Drinks

Water.  Filtered, bottled, or tap.

Try adding slices of lemons, oranges and limes with coloured straws for an appealing visual effect.

Pizza 

Make a healthy pizza sauce by mixing salt reduced tomato paste, a pinch each of oregano and basil, a zucchini and some mushrooms in a food processor.  Thin out with a little water.  Spread on wholemeal pita bread or other healthy bread base, top with grated low fat cheese and bake until the cheese has melted.

Fairy bread

Use a wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. Top with additive free sprinkles.

Fruit Platter with Healthy Chocolate Dip

If there is enough variety, usually every child can find their favourite fruit. Grapes are very popular! To make a healthy chocolate dip simply blend an avocado and 2 tbs cocoa powder (raw organic tastes  better if you can get it) in a food processor and sweeten to taste with honey, agave or maple syrup. Honey is best avoided for under 2’s.

Air popped popcorn

If you don’t have a popcorn machine, they are a great investment for a healthy, filling, additive free snack in minutes! Be mindful that popcorn poses a choking risk to younger children.

Fruity ice cream pops

Fill plastic icy pole moulds with layers of pureed fruits and some natural yoghurt. Freeze for 30 minutes in between layering for a stripy effect.

Cake

If time permits it really pays to make the cake yourself as you can control what goes into it.  A home made cake usually has 5 or 6 ingredients, yet a commercial cake mix can have 4 times that many! If you are purchasing a cake, don’t be afraid to ask about the ingredients. Do some research online first, many businesses are embracing healthier food options. There are thousands of healthier cake recipes on the internet. Hopper Foods also have 100% natural vegetable food dyes to brighten your cake up additive free!

Another great resource for healthier children’s parties is Let’s Party Additive Free.

It is a lovely feeling when the party is over to know that your child and their friends had fun without harmful additives and simply lots of fresh, healthy food!

Kim Bayne is an aspiring author, writer and blogger at Life by Kimmy. A mum of 4 teenagers and a 5 year old, Kim is married to her soulmate and is passionate about educating and empowering parents based on her experiences and the things she has learned on her wonderful journey through life so far. 

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Our digitally resistant camping rendezvous

It’s too quiet. I creep to the tent, careful to avoid the dry leaves. I ease the zip gently until I can peek through the fly. Two bodies sprawled on sleeping bags. Beloved Nintendo DS’s strewn unoccupied, a disconcerting sight. They are reading. My heart flutters. It’s the stuff of my dreams.

After the craziness of Christmas it’s a relief to hit the road. Three have joined their mum for some time on the beach, and we’ve bundled up the other two for a week in the bush. The boys have pitched their tent, and Steve and I scored the van. Back 2 Basics Zan Style. (We parked strategically for Internet access; I have a copywriting deadline I can meet on a camping chair.)

Our digitally resistant annual camping rendezvous has been adapted this year, in a curious little experiment. Besides my laptop, we’re accompanied by the boys’ Nintendo DSs and a handful of games. And by the look of things, we’ve made a breakthrough. Two days in and the carefully selected books I placed in the boys’ zone have infiltrated DS central. Big Nate Makes the Grade and Ratburger are being consumed hungrily by my pre-teens.

I have a love/hate relationship with video games and the screen-dominated world my children inhabit. I’d be a hypocrite to ban their DSs; I’m no worse off for the hours of Tetris, Frogger and Donkey Kong I absorbed in my youth. And I’ll be the first to admit the relief from bantering and testosterone fuelled wrestling when those little hand held consoles light up. It’s not lost on me that the antisocial coma that irritates me when my children play DS on long trips is not unlike my own book-loving mother’s protests to get my head out of The Babysitters Club, look out the car window and see the world. But in my battle to balance the media content in the lives of this generation of digital nomads, I’ve worked hard to pass on my voracious appetite for books, so that my kids can appreciate the thrill of the latest cult paperback as much as the excitement of the newly released Super Paper Mario.

As a child my bedroom doubled as the local library. My neighbours borrowed Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew and The Famous Five from my bursting bookshelves with their hand-contacted cards. Now my children take pleasure in my old favourites, from Roald Dahl and Paul Jennings, to Judy Blume. Besides their own healthy collections, we borrow from the library once a week, and they check out Fishpond.com before reserving a mix of titles on the library website.

And now my ten year old wants a Kindle. I’m coming to terms with it. My own tactile appreciation of the crisp pages of a novel and the fondness for my crudely cut Mother’s Day bookmark are lost on children deftly at ease turning pages with the swipe of a screen. In fact, with the growing demise of major bookstores, I’ll be ordering my own eReader unless I’m happy re-reading my personal book collection for the rest of my life.

Ultimately, it comes down to moderation and responsible usage. I’ve awoken the kids to the fact that the digital giants deliberately release new versions of their portable game systems to render the superceded model inferior. And they realise (well, I hope so) that the new Moshi Monsters Theme Park they’ve been lusting for won’t change their lives. My children no longer scream in horror as the sun rises on our Screen Free days. The Lego, the Barbies, the train tracks and Mouse Trap get a workout. My nine year old retreats to his room to play ‘men’ with his army figures. And they even play ‘libraries’; borrowing books from room to room, with my eight year old in her reading glasses at the kitchen bench swiping barcodes with a potato peeler.

Back in the tent, I check to see if the batteries are dead on the DSs (they’re not) before climbing between my deeply absorbed boys with a cherished copy of The Bronze Horseman.

For now the balance seems right. There’s hope for us yet.

OliviaZanSmallOlivia Zan is a copywriter, a runner and a dressmaker. She manages a blended family by day. And when five heads hit the pillow at sunset, her studio comes to life with the tap of the Mac, the beat of the treadmill and the hum of the Singer. 

 

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