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Are you taking your day out on your kids?

Mia Von Scha &kids

By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

As the year draws to a close, life tends to get busier and busier. Most parents I speak to are overwhelmed with work and social functions as well as helping kids to prepare for exams or new years and new schools. Our lives tend to be so busy anyway, that this added year-end pressure can get a bit much and we need to be careful that our kids are not bearing the brunt of this.

Do you ever find that you make it through a tough day at the office only to come home and lash out at your kids for the smallest mistake? Or that you are churning internally about some unresolved emotional issue and snap at your children when they interrupt your train of thought? We tend to lash out at the people closest to us – in our homes we feel free to vent, to “be ourselves”, to let go of the pent up stuff that we didn’t express with the people who really got our backs up.

If you are carrying around unresolved negative emotions you are likely to take this out on your kids (and/or your partner) at some point. It’s not that you mean to hurt them, but you do.

It is really worth taking some small gaps in your day to assess your own emotional state, particularly before arriving home. This may be as simple as sitting in your car for 5 minutes after arriving and just doing some deep breathing and letting go of your day before greeting your family. Or if you have deeper issues that you are battling with, find a coach or councilor or even a good friend that you can chat to so that you have a constructive outlet for your negative emotional baggage, and particularly if you find that you are not able to address issues with the actual people concerned.

And, of course, keep in mind that we are all human, and we all crack sometimes. If you’ve snapped at your child after a long and difficult day, start by forgiving yourself and then apologise to your child and let them know that it wasn’t their fault. Our kids can learn a lot from our mistakes about how to handle life, relationships and bad days!

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The busy parents’ guide to spending time with their kids

Mia Von Scha &kids By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

The days of housewives and lazy weekends in the garden are almost extinct. Most parents that I know these days need the double income and spend their weekends doing shopping and housework and catching up on other personal stuff that doesn’t fit in to their 8-5 working schedule. And then you have people like me telling you to spend quality time with your kids; that they need your presence and your full attention in order to blossom into the awesome human beings they were meant to become.

So how do you fit it all in??

Well, everyone’s schedules are different, but here are some ideas to get you going…

Firstly, it really isn’t about the amount of time you spend with your kids, but the quality of your attention when you do. So my first suggestion would be to find a gap in your schedule (preferably daily if you can) even if it is only 5 minutes where your child has your undivided attention – no phones, computers, laptops, or mental distractions.

If you’re even finding that difficult, find ways to double up on or cut back on some of the things you need to do in a day. Little things, when added up, can make a big difference:

• Try having a Stinky Friday where the kids don’t have to bath. You’ll be surprised how much time this opens up and the kids generally love it!

• Try cooking in batches so that you make enough for two or even three meals and then eat leftovers the next night or freeze some meals for later in the week.

• Allow the little ones to sometimes go to school in their pyjamas, or even have them sleep in a tracksuit and just get up and go in the morning.

• Make lunch boxes and lay out breakfast things the night before so that the mornings can be slower and allow for some time to connect.

• Cut back on emailing, Facebooking and BBM time – it’s great to connect but it doesn’t need to be every 5 minutes!

Another wonderful way to spend time with your kids and get everything done is to get them to help you. Most little ones love to be included in cooking and hanging washing and gardening and fixing the car and other household “chores”. Involving your children from a young age gives them a sense of significance in the family. Just make sure that you bring a sense of fun and presence to whatever you are doing – remember that they learn from you which things are a drag to do and which are enjoyable. There is nothing inherently painful about washing dishes or folding laundry – this is a learned attitude so help them to learn a good one and you may find many enjoyable moments spent with your child while things still get done.

And finally, find solace in the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of other busy parents out there in the same situation. Just do the best that you can!

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

Are your kids too busy?

Mia Von Scha &kidsby Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life

The start of the new school year brings with it a multitude of options on how your kids will spend their time  – extra murals, sports fixtures, parties, playdates and school functions. It’s tempting to sign them up for everything – I mean, we do want to expose our kids to as many opportunities as possible, right?!

Riven Tang Soo Do

My daughter learning karate at Alchemy Tang Soo do

Wrong. I’m all for kids being exposed to various different activities and experiences so that they can discover their unique talents and interests, but certainly not all at once. One way of doing this, if you can, is to let your kids do two extra murals per term and then drop one of those each term (or every second term) to try out something else. This way, the one they really enjoy will stay, and another will be replaced regularly while they try out new things AND they will not be overwhelmed with busy-ness in the process.

Kids need time to entertain themselves – to play fantasy games, relax, spend time outdoors. They should not spend too much time in front of the TV, or too much time at extra murals and after-school activities. Not only does unscheduled time help to develop their imaginations and creativity (essential elements for success in later life) but they also NEED time to just BE!! We are, after all, human beings not human doings. Children need to feel loved and appreciated not just when they’re winning, competing or performing, but when they’re just being themselves, just being; Loved for who they are not what they do.

Don’t we all?

I vow to make 2013 the year that we stop the glorification of busy and allow ourselves and our kids some proper time out – time to relax, to nurture our souls and to appreciate life as it unfolds.

Click here to find a very long list of companies offering extra mural activities including dancing, music, sport and more.

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Time management for busy moms – useful tips

By Kamani Reddy,  mom to a 5yr old busy body, wife to her best friend, full time employee & life coach for moms. Visit her on Jozikids to find out more.

Moms are always rushing around not having enough time in the day to finish the chores that they set out to do, never mind making time for themselves.

I got tired of saying that I didnt have the time to do things. I made up my mind that I was going to make the time to get some exercise, go to the spa, have quiet time to myself, spend quality time with my husband and spend quality, fun time with my daughter. This is how I do it:

Document everything
At first I recorded every activity I did throughout the day for a week and then noted everything that was a waste of my time.

Prioritising your activities
I registered on Google for a  Google calendar where I captured  and prioritised all the activities from my journal. I started with “Priority 1″ activities first, then if I still had gaps in my schedule I captured the “Priority 2″ activities, then if I still had even further gaps I captured the “Priority 3″ activities.

Delegating tasks
While capturing Priority 2 and 3 activities, if I did not have a gap in my schedule for these I tried to figure out how else I could get the activity done. Perhaps I could do it on another day, perhaps another time. Maybe I could even delegate the task.

We had a family meeting and decided that mom needed some help with chores etc. So I started delegating tasks that my husband and daughter could take over from me. My daughter had just turned 4 at that time, so I kept her tasks simple. She even told me that she was so excited to “help mom out”.

Multi-tasking
I looked at tasks that I could multitask, eg. Exercising and watching TV or reading a book (if I were spinning). I put simple tasks together as I found that cooking and bathing my daughter always resulted in burnt food. I also learnt a lot about saying NO. I always thought about whether the task was for the greater good of me and my family, and if it was not, I just said NO.

Routine helps
I made sure that we had a routine. There were certain things that needed to be done at a certain time and in a certain way. This helped when everyone was involved. We all knew what to do and when so there was no confusion. An example of this was when we got home from school, my daughter knows how to unpack her bag herself, giving me time to run her bath and freshen up myself.

Take shortcuts
I learnt to take shortcuts where I could. An example of this was that when I was shopping for fresh produce, I dropped off the vegetables that needed to be chopped at the counter while I was still shopping. When I had gone through the store my last stop before paying would be to collect my freshly chopped veggies. When preparing dinner, I didn’t have to chop the veggies, just got each packet out the freezer ready for cooking.

I now feel like an expert at time management! I do hit a snag every now and then but I can bounce back easily without any bruises. Why don’t you give it a try and if you need my help give me a shout.

Click here to find out more about Kamani’s company called FAB Mom’s Life Coaching

Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

Who rules the roost?

By Dallace Jolly,  single mom to 2 sons with characters of epic proportions. Her children and work are a source of endless amusement and inspiration. She’s also a freelance writer and editor of Bluff Digital Magazine and CitiGaming.

I was summoned to an emergency meeting by my two sons to discuss our household rules. This was a highly informative and interesting meeting. So much so, that I feel compelled to share the minutes of said meeting.

Minutes of Emergency Children’s Rights Meeting

Called & Jointly Chaired by: Masters Eli (aged 9) and Caleb (aged 6)

Attendees: Eli Jolly, Caleb Jolly (hereafter referred to as Child/ren), Dallace Jolly (hereafter referred to as Mother/Parent)

Agenda: All aspects of Children’s Rights and none of those of the Parent

After lengthy commentary from the co-chairs tenuously disguised as ‘discussions,’ the following conclusions were arrived at (after a one-attendee, one-vote process):

• MacDonald’s, Spur , Mimmo’s, Wimpy and KFC DO in fact serve food which is MSG-free and contains ingredients from all major food groups; in particular vegetables (burgers have both tomato and lettuce on them) and dairy (pizza features cheese which is a dairy product, not forgetting soda floats have ice cream which is a dairy product too).

• Meal times shall now be determined on a need-to-eat basis. Any existing set meal times no longer apply. In addition the location of said meals will now be determined by game-in-play at time of said need-to-eat occurring.

• The Children’s current no-sweets-or-fizzy-drinks-during-the-week rule, shall now also apply to cigarettes and wine for Mothers.

• Brushing teeth is only necessary if an event of major importance is taking place (such as visiting Nelson Mandela or Disney World) or if rewards of the sugary variety are offered. Contrary to popular belief (and dental research), sweets do not rot teeth, they do in fact give teeth energy. This scientific fact is based on the premise that sugar gives you energy and not a sugar rush.

• Home decor/entertainment shall now predominantly comprise:

1. Toys (these must be evenly distributed throughout each room in the home and are under no circumstances to be packed away. Ever.)

2. DVDs (to be played at all hours of the day/night at maximum possible volume, whether they are being watched or not. This is to provide pleasant background noise which encourages free play.)

3. Play dough (mandatory for all floor coverings particularly those with a thick pile.)

4. Artworks will now be hand-drawn directly onto walls/upholstery in the mixed mediums of permanent marker and wax crayon.

• Henceforth when Children enquire as to why they are being asked to perform a task, responses from Mother may no longer include: “Because I am your Mother and I said so!” or “In my house you will follow my rules!” or “Because you made the mess!” The only permissible response is now “Don’t worry darling, Mommy will do it for you.”

In conclusion, it has been determined that should Mother not be in agreement with Children’s ‘suggestions’ as laid out above, then alternative accommodation must be sought by offending Mother.

BUT…

Although Mother fully recognises Children’s Rights and endeavours to give them a platform from which to voice their valid opinions, Mother is indeed MOTHER. So, Children will do what they are told and like it.

Why? Because I am their Mother and I said SO! And because they gave me stretch marks!

The meeting was adjourned by Mother and attempted coup was averted.

Seeing red, and how to deal with it.

by Kerry Haggard is mom to the two most beautiful boys that ever there were. She’s a writer, editor and a wannabe organic vegetable farmer. She’s also a redhead, and recently realised that she has the temper to go with that. Follow her on Twitter: @KerryHaggard

This morning was an early one – up at 5h00, with both boys wanting different things, from Easter eggs to Cbeebies. I’m comfortable with the TV as my (very happy) helper at that time of the morning, and with boys settled in front of Mr Maker, I snuck off to check mail on my computer in the next room.

And that’s where things started going pear-shaped. Both boys came through, both wanting to sit on the one spare seat, and then Daniel (the older one) wanted to watch YouTube (which he can surf by himself), a Thomas the Tank Engine video, and then he asked for his own computer games (which are not set up at the moment) – all in the space of about 30 seconds. He responded to my ‘no, not now’ answers to all of those by stomping his feet, shouting at me and throwing a basketful of Lego in all directions. Not a normal reaction for this mostly peaceful boy – but a reaction that made me see red, and lose the 5h30 plot a little.

I smacked his pyjama’d bottom, told him that he is not allowed to throw things at me, and told him to go to his room. When he sat there apologising in tears, I thought of all those experts that tell us to be consistent and mean what we say, and I insisted that he go to his room, eventually resorting to carrying him there to prove my point.

And then I stopped and thought about it (which I probably should have done before the part where I saw red). This whole scene started because both my little boys wanted to be with me, and Daniel particularly wanted my attention. When he didn’t get it in the way that he was hoping for, he got frustrated, and angry. Which made me angry. But why am I allowed to get angry, and he is not? If he is allowed to get angry (which I believe he is), just how do I teach him how to express that anger? And how do I control my own emotions when I am frustrated (at being up at the crack of dawn) myself, and just want a little bit of space?

I know I am the adult in this, and I know it is my job to teach him how to deal with his feelings in a constructive way.

But I don’t think I did a very good job of teaching him, or setting a good example, this morning. How do other parents deal with their little ones’ frustration?

*A note: This is only the third time in his nearly five years that I have smacked Daniel on his bottom. I believe that there is a time and a place for a smack on the bottom, but never with anything other than my hand, and more for effect than injury. I don’t think that his actions this morning deserved my response, which is why I’m disturbed by it, and would love to how other parents deal with this type of situation.

Separation anxiety

by Gina Jacobson, a mom, a leo.  She works for a  non-profit organisation, is a procrastinator, loves sci-fi, sushi, good books and scrabble.Her blog is made up of A Bit of This a Bit of That.

Aaron is a pretty well adjusted 2 year old.  He moved from his cot to a big boy bed without a hitch.  He started school with very few tantrums or clingy moments.

What he is not adjusting well to is the fact that daddy has moved out of the home office and into a new office.  He is teary and clingy, he makes me call daddy each morning so he can speak to him and then sobs and begs daddy to come home.

He is suddenly very clingy with me, he cries and wails when I leave him at school in the morning, which he really wasn’t doing that often before and he gets very upset when I leave to go back to work after lunch.

He has also been sick the last few weeks and Im sure that he is still feeling out of sorts from that as well.

It  just breaks my heart to see him sob when daddy goes off to work and when I go back to work after lunch.

What has your experience been with separation anxiety and with anxiety caused by big changes in your little ones life?  Do you have any tips to help us ease through this transition?

Creation of culture through parenting

by Je’anna Clements, a mother, and certified Aware Parenting Instructor. She helps organise ‘aware parenting‘ support groups,  events for pre-schooled and homeschooled kids in Gauteng plus a new  ‘Kid’s Fun Market’ in Observatory, Johannesburg. She can be contacted on squeakyg@pixelplexus.co.za

For many parents ‘normal’ seems like something real rather than just a relative mental construction. Sometimes so real it’s not even labelled ‘normal’, but simply ‘life’, or even ‘reality’.

Living in South Africa one has the privilege of seeing a different culture to one’s own, and get the gift of realisation: “oh. They do things differently.” Sadly the next thought is often something like “Time we get everyone modern, learn what’s normal, what’s real.”

Quite apart from my luck in being South African, I grew up with an anthropologist. I learned early on that there are countless cultures out there and that each and every ‘weird’ one considers its ways to be ‘normal’, ‘life’, ‘reality’.

I remember reading about some ‘tribe’ that strapped the soft moldable heads of their newborn babies between two wooden planks so the bones would grow into a conehead shape. For them, this was normal. It’s what you did when a baby was born.

This would be weird, maybe even prosecutable if I did it here and now. Instead, in my culture it seems ‘normal’ for newborns to be put in an incubator.

Just as the very first things that happen to babies are prescribed by culture, so is every other parenting practice thereafter – from where and when it is ‘normal’ for kids to sleep, to how they are disciplined, educated, fed.

We might have slightly individual preferences about our chosen parenting practices – our neighbour spanks, we use time out – but how often do we stop to consider that each and every thing we do with our kids is creating not only a personal relationship but also a cultural orientation? That the state and shape of the world we live in right now, is the way it is, as a direct result of past parenting practices?

The above-mentioned ‘tribe’ happened to be intensely warlike, regularly terrorising and invading the neighbours. But I doubt many new moms consciously thought “well these big planks completely stop me picking up or initially even feeding my baby, which will make him so lonely and confused and angry that the perfect foundation will be laid for the cruel violence our culture will require of him as an adult.”

Just as we today seldom stop to wonder what it means for children to spend the most impressionable bonding hours ever, experiencing busy machines and schedules and ‘things’ rather than being quietly close with people who love them.

(Hmm. Just for starters, off the top of my head, maybe a culture where new moms are told it is ‘normal’ to override any yearning for intimacy and quiet being-with that sweet, soft babeling; to go back to the schedules and machines asap, in order to acquire more things?)

And, of course, as with the head-strappers, that’s just the beginning…

Who’s raising your children?

by Zelna Lauwrens, founder of Equal Zeal Training, an organisation that specialises in self development programmes for young people and their families.  For more information visit Equal Zeal .

Your child is born amidst teddies, new clothes, bouquets of flowers and many visits from excited family and friends…when the hustle and bustle dies down and your happy family returns home from hospital, you are left hoping, praying, and wishing that this child will be an easy one.  That your child will cruise through the journey of life without a hitch or a problem.  That your child will be different from all the ones that you hear about in the media that make bad choices or are exposed to negative circumstances.  That your child will be the one where homework is always done, suitable friends are chosen, manners are good and model behaviour is displayed.

As baby grows steadily and the developmental stages are ticked off one by one, you shower the little soul with so much love and affection that there is no doubt that they will grow up into anything other than your special and gifted child with so much good to offer the world.  Then school starts, and so the uphill battle of homework, bullying, pressures of tests, strict teachers and reduced playtime steps in.  Your once precious little soul that adored being with mommy and daddy and loved hugs, kisses and piggy back rides now pulls a face at the thought of mom dropping them off at the classroom door.  Fights and arguments are reduced to having the latest gadgets and toys and which clothing labels are the best to wear alongside why fast food is way better than vegetables.

Before you know it, your once adorable 6-year old with two front teeth missing turns into a revolting teenager adorned in black clothing and enough piercings to resemble a Christmas tree. Your beautiful daughter insists on wearing skimpy, provocative clothing that relays the message that she is no longer a child.  The cheekiness and sullen behaviour steps in and nothing you do is good enough and so the endless cycle of habitual arguing in the household begins.

So what are we debating here? Are the swift changes in technology to blame for a value shift and decline in positive behaviour in our children, or is it the lack of distinct traditional parenting, perhaps we need to look to the media to find a scape goat, or is it the overwhelming toxic influence of alchohol, sex and drugs that are impacting on our children’s precious lives along with not enough exercise, poor diet, role models in the form of singers and scandalous movie stars and crime statistics on the upswing?

We can point fingers, we can allocate blame, we can raise our hands in the air in frustration, but as parents we need to realise that it is reasonable to assume that a generation shaped by this new fast paced world of ours will be different from those who have gone before it.

Albert Einstein said that “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.” Let us acknowledge that times are changing and that we need to move with the times rather than stay stuck in the rigid confines of parenting with blinkers on that can sometimes exacerbate problems in our children.

Every parent is in marketing (even if they don’t realise it)

Nikki Bush, a self-confessed parenting adventurer.  Married with two strapping sons aged 14 and 10.  Nikki’s clients call her a creative parenting expert.  She is an inspirational speaker and author of bestselling parenting book, Future-proof Your Child (Penguin, 2008).

Have you ever realised that you are always trying to market to, or sell your child/ren something – an idea, a value, a point of view, an action to be taken etc:

  • It’s time for bed – NOW!
  • Studying for a test IS a good idea.
  • Pack your bags tonight for tomorrow.
  • Carrots make you see better in the dark.
  • Don’t let the dog lick your mouth – you’ll get worms!
  • Sex is only for adults !!!!
  • You are a gorgeous, talented individual.  There is no-one quite like you.
  • I love you to the moon and stars and back (even though you just nearly drove me round the bend!).
  • With this generation, authority does work (sometimes), particularly in the early years when “because I am your parent and I said so” still has some magical power to it, or if you have actively positioned yourself as a hero in your child’s life story.  But, as children get older there is a tendency for them to either think or, even worse, verbalise “Says Who?” or “Who cares anyway?”. Living in a reward-based culture as we do, where it’s so commonplace for us to be rewarded for swiping our credit cards, being loyal to the same airline, store or restaurant, visiting the gym etc, our children could be forgiven for thinking:  “If they want me to do this, what’s in it for me, what do I get?”

    This is a very real challenge for 21st century parents.  Of course the desired end result after years of parenting is for our children to be self-motivated rather than relying on some form of external bribe etc.  But, from time-to-time, it may be necessary to utilise various “marketing tactics” to get the message across to your child in a fun and playful way, or to get their buy-in until it becomes an adopted habit, value, thought or behaviour pattern.

    Star charts, treats, promises and bribes are all in a parent’s marketing arsenal – to be used wisely, of course.  And do watch what the marketers are doing – you could pick up an idea or two to add to your toolkit.  Try these “promotions” for size, my kids loved them:

  • Two for the price of one, eg. “Keep your room tidy for X weeks without being nagged and I won’t just take you for a milkshake but you can bring a friend along too”.
  • Buy one, get one free, eg  “Unpack your school bags / hang up your towel for a week without being asked and I’ll make you your favourite pudding on Friday night and you get to choose Friday night’s game / movie!”