What emotion is this anger really hiding?

Sometimes a random comment will float through the air and land in just the right place to make a difference!  One day I heard this comment: “Someone might seem like they’re angry, but actually they are afraid. It can help to ask them what they are afraid of.” The woman was talking about children with anger management issues, and how to help them identify their emotions and direct them appropriately. However, it came right onto the radar of a person who was feeling angry right in that moment – me. Continue reading “What emotion is this anger really hiding?”

The morning rush

The morning rush happens in households all over the country. Trying to get out the door on time with kids in tow can be challenging to say the least! Every household runs differently, and what works for you and your family might not work for someone else’s. Here are a few things I (a non morning person) have found helpful to avoid the morning rush.

Prepare kids the night before

It goes without saying, but getting enough sleep is likely to make kids a lot more cooperative in the mornings. Do your best to keep a regular bedtime where possible.

If your child doesn’t attend day care or kindergarten everyday, it can be useful to remind them the night before that it is happening tomorrow. Hopefully this will help them feel more prepared for the plan to get up, ready and out the door in the morning.

Picking out clothes seems to take a while in our house, and is often the source on conflict (shorts when it’s only 2 degrees out, really??!). To streamline this task, it can be helpful for you or your child, to select the outfit the night before. (Like me, you may not get your child to wear pants during winter, but at least you might get them in a respectable looking jumper!) Preselecting clothes can be especially helpful if a uniform is required; it will avoid the early morning rush to get something specific dried or ironed.

Mum preparation

For me, when the kids hit the hay I want to immediately clock out too, but a little preparation in the evening goes a long way to make my mornings run smoother. If I have the kitchen all cleaned up in the evening, I feel less stressed and overwhelmed when I start my day.

Check your calendar for any important events like appointments, meetings, sports / pool days, or after school activities. Nappy bags, sport or swimming bags, or your work bag can easily be packed the night before to save time in the morning.

Some mums I know are stars at packing lunches the night before. That’s not me though. My kids don’t seem to eat sandwiches that are pre-made too far in advance. I do like to have a number of “pick and pack” snacks ready to go to make the process easier though; small pots of yogurt, veggie sticks, muffins, muesli bars or cut up fruit (that doesn’t brown). There are a tonne of make ahead snack and lunch recipes available online if you wants some inspiration!

Task list

A morning task list is good visual reminder of what needs to be done, and help children get ready. Something they can refer back to themselves can (hopefully) save you having to repeat yourself over and over. It also encourages independence and self-organisation in your child. Here’s our version of a Morning job list.

Breakfast

One of my kids is not a great lover of breakfast; and the lower their blood sugar (and the more they need food) the more indecisive they become. We have a few staples to choose from and don’t vary it too much. Quick options like toast or a smoothie can get things moving. Sometimes we let the kids “put in their order” the night before (limited options) as it feels fun and can skip the long ‘deciding’ phase in the morning.

Limit electronics and TV

Avoid electronics for kids (and parents alike) until the jobs are done. Electronics are a distraction that only make everything take so much longer, and is often a source of conflict. Granted, this is harder to control as kids get older. We are fortunate enough to have a smart TV that allows us to put a passcode on the TV to prevent use. You can also buy “smart plugs” that you can turn on and off with your phone to control device use.

Keep your cool

Nothing will derail the morning faster than a parent losing their cool.

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”- L.R. Knost.

I have one child in particular who sometimes finds school attendance difficult. When they get worked up, and start resisting all attempts to get ready, I want to (and sometimes do) get frustrated and worked up too. But its more helpful if I remind myself of their anxious feelings, and have an attitude of compassion. I still aim to be ready on time, but also acknowledge with a hug that I understand it is not easy for them. They may need to sit with me for a bit to calm down, or need alone time. I need to make sure there is time and space in our morning for this to occur when needed (which is something I continue to work on).

Its never perfect, but these are just a few of the things I try to do to avoid the morning rush. What tips do you have?

Kelly McCrohan                                                                          Mops Blog Administrator

Around the family table

I grew up in a large family of 6 children. One of the highlights of each day was our evening meal around the very long table. It wasn’t the food that made it special (although always tasty and made with love); it was the simple act of being all together around the family table. Continue reading “Around the family table”

Family Pets

Family pets can be a valuable addition to any household. They bring so much delight and fun. Children can benefit so much from having a pet in the family. Dogs are such great companions, and having a dog in our household has taught my kids so much about love, care and responsibility.

Health Benefits of Pets

There are so many benefits to having a dog in the family. One commonly known benefit with dogs is that they encourage us to exercise and get outdoors. Taking a walk, or playing with the dog in the yard are great ways to expel energy for the kids as well as the dog!

Then there’s the snuggles- most pets love a pat or a cuddle. They accept you for who you are, whether you are the best runner or the worst speller. Whether you are grumpy, tired or happy, a dog will usually always love a snuggle or a pat. Patting animals releases feel good hormones that can help soothe an anxious or worked up child (or adult!). That’s one reason why specially trained ‘therapy dogs’ are now being used more and more in schools and therapeutic settings.

If you need another excuse, one (surprising) bonus of pet ownership might be less allergies such as eczema, asthma and hay fever. One study found a link between pet ownership (dogs and cats) in early childhood with reduced levels these allergies when competed to pet-free households. Sadly, if you are already allergic to pet dander, this won’t help you though!

Responsibility

Pet ownership encourages kids to think of something/someone outside themselves, building empathy. A pet gets hungry, tired, cold and excited, just like us. Kids need to learn and understand these things to look after their family pet.

Kids will need to constantly ensure the pet has its needs met-  food, water, clean bedding, exercise etc. Feeding a pet is a small but very important job that can’t be forgotten!! It’s the type of chore that is very manageable for little kids to help with.

Do your research

As many benefits a family pets bring, it is also a big responsibility and commitment. You will usually have the pet for a long time. Think about what sort of breed or type of pet would work with your budget (think purchase cost, food, vet, council registration and grooming costs). Consider your yard size (or lack of), lifestyle and family members.

For example; If you like to go away camping on weekends, can the pet come with you? If not, who will look after it?

Will the pet have much alone time? Some dog breeds deal better with this than others. Whereas cats just don’t seem to mind being left on their own as much, as long as they are fed!

If you are thinking about getting a dog and have little ones in your family, you’ll want to choose a dog breed that’s renowned for being good with children. Training dogs is vital too (and also the children on how to be gentle with animals!). Regardless of how well trained and sweet natured your pet (or child) may be, it is always advisable to supervise young children around pets.

 

There are many good reasons to introduce a pet into your family, but its not a decision to be made lightly. The right pet needs to be for the right family. You get that right, and you’ll enjoy having a family pet so much more.

Kelly McCrohan
MOPS Blog Administrator

 

Inexpensive Date Ideas

Dates are a great way to add fun and excitement to your marriage, but once you have kids, the expense can create a barrier to doing this as often as you might like. Not only do you have all the expenses that come with children, you also then have to pay for babysitting in addition to the cost of the actual date. But theres no rule saying a date requires spending lots of money, or even leaving your house. With a little creativity, there are many inexpensive date ideas to be enjoyed.

Why date your husband?

You might be thinking that dates were a part of the season of life before kids and marriage, and that dates don’t need to be happening now. And this is true – you don’t have to go on dates!

But there are plenty of benefits to continuing to ‘date’ your spouse:

  • Spending quality time together
  • Growing your friendship
  • Allowing space for intimacy to thrive
  • Having a good conversation
  • Having fun together and making memories

It does take a little more effort to make dates happen after kids, but I think it’s worth it! Think of it as an investment in your marriage.

At Home Dates

These are dates you can do together at home without the need to get a  babysitter. When you think creatively and approach the time with a fun, light-hearted attitude, doing any activity with your husband could be considered a date! Here are some ideas for dating at home:

  • Watch a movie or TV show
  • Declutter a room of the house together
  • Pretend to be on Masterchef, have a cook-off and judge each other’s creations
  • Make a new recipe together
  • Lie outside on the grass and look at the stars
  • Have a backyard fire with toasted marshmallows and wine
  • Read a book together
  • Have picnic on the lounge-room floor
  • Play a board game
  • Build some Ikea furniture

Out of Home Date ideas

Okay, so you’ve got some child-free time, but still not a lot of cash to splash. There are lots of things you can do for little or no money. Here are some cheap date ideas for when you can get out of the house together:

  • Go for a bike ride together
  • Walk along a river
  • Climb a hill or a mountain
  • Explore the streets of a new suburb
  • Explore an abandoned building
  • Have a picnic in a local park
  • Climb some trees
  • Serve together at a church event
  • Attend a free talk or seminar
  • Go to a live music event
  • Try an Op shop date – choose an outfit for each other at an Op shop, then wear the outfits on your date
  • Pretend it’s your first date

Conversation Ideas

Maybe you’re all good on the date ideas front, but you find yourself sitting face-to-face with the love of your life, and… all you can think of to talk about is the baby’s nap schedule.

Good conversation takes effort. Don’t be worried if it’s not coming naturally. It’s not a reflection on your relationship, it just means you’re probably out of practice!

Below is a list of ideas for conversation starters you can use on your date. Memorise one or two of them, and you can use them to spark a conversation if nothing else is coming to mind. I mean, don’t be weird about it – act natural, guys! But it will help if you have something interesting to talk about stored away if need it.

  • Remember when… (and reminisce about a time when you were dating or newly married)
  • I really appreciate… (tell him something you appreciate about his character or recent actions)
  • I’d love to… (share a dream or a wish)
  • The other day I read…
  • What was the best part of your week/day?
  • What’s something God’s been teaching you lately?
  • What’s your funniest memory from when we were dating?
  • Tell me something I don’t know about you yet.
  • What is the most scared you have ever been?
  • What was your worst injury?
  • If you could spend 24 hours doing anything in the world, what would it be?
  • My favourite memory of us is…
  • What was your most embarrassing moment?
  • Tell me about what you’d like to accomplish in life?
  • Is there something you’d like to do, but you’re too scared to try it?
  • What was the happiest you’ve ever been?
  • I wish I had learned to…
  • What was your first impression of me? Was it accurate?

Now, what are you waiting for? Go, plan a date with your husband and write it on the calendar!

Jessica Harvey

Jessica Harvey
Creative Activities Coordinator, Tuggeranong MOPS

Good is perfectly okay!

The day I left the hospital with my first born I couldn’t stop crying. It wasn’t just a case of the baby blues. It was an overwhelming sense of my own imperfection and the many ways I would fail her. We all know none of us are perfect mothers, and over the years I’ve had to learn that being ‘good’ is perfectly okay!

Continue reading “Good is perfectly okay!”

Caring Conversation with Your Children

When my son was young, he wanted me to lie with him at bedtime for “two minutes” every night. Of course, he would drag these two minutes out as long as possible. Sometimes he was just delaying going to sleep. Though this was often a time when he would share with me, ask the harder questions and our conversations would go deeper. So, in a way I didn’t mind that this practice lasted into my son’s high school years.  I knew that this time was not going to last forever. It’s so important to value and create caring conversation with your children. Continue reading “Caring Conversation with Your Children”

The comfort of home

Despite the eye rolls from my husband, it’s important that my home is a comfortable place where we can relax, refresh and connect with family and friends. I can wear my stretchy pants, fluffy socks and have ‘I don’t care’ hair. As Jane Austen writes in her book Emma, “Ah! There’s nothing like staying home for real comfort.” For me, comfort in the home means cushions!  Continue reading “The comfort of home”

The creative art of mothering

I’ve had a few ‘creative phases’ in my life. In high school, it was writing. Later, it was designing and sewing children’s clothes. More recently, I’ve taken a brush to canvas. In each of those creative activities, I have particularly enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that comes when the end product turns out as I’d hoped. If the poem is satisfying, I will repeat it to myself often – just because it pleases me. When a little girl’s dress or a baby’s playsuit is finished, I like to put it on a hanger where I can see it – just for the satisfaction it brings to me. (It doesn’t need to meet anyone else’s standard – just so long as it pleases me.) There is also a creative art to mothering. Continue reading “The creative art of mothering”