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10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights

With a young child, one of the most trying times can be night time.  We all expect to be awake with babies and infants, but what if your child is 3 years of age and still waking you at night? Parents and children need their rest after a long day of work, school, or play, although sleep is often interrupted by a cry for help from another room.  As parents, it’s impossible to ignore our children, yet we all need a good night’s sleep and we want the same for our children as well.  Not getting enough sleep can affect how we parent and many other aspects of our lives. We explore 10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights.

  1. If you know to expect that your child might call you during the night, it’s best to just accept it rather than dread it, as children will pick up on your anxiety.
  2. Try to get to bed yourself very early at least 3 nights a week – even if you don’t really feel like it – so you can get hopefully 4-5 hours of continuous sleep before the first call from your child.
  3. Stay calm during the night. Remember that it’s okay to forget the rules at times. If they will sleep well in your bed take them in, or get into bed with them if you can. A double bed for young children can be great if you have the space; at least you’ll have room then!
  4. Talk with your child during the day about sleeping. Praise them if they sleep well and try to encourage them to call you when it starts to get bright, not when it is dark. Encourage self-soothing such as cuddling up with favourite teddy bears. Be extra generous with praise for any attempt they make to sleep better in their own bed without calling you. Talk to them about how sleep fills them up with energy for the next day and how they need it for the busy day ahead of them. Help them to understand and like the idea of sleeping, and talk with them about why parents need sleep too.
  5. Try to ensure that during the day (not at bedtime), that you talk over things that are happening with them too. All kinds of things can play on your child’s mind that you might not be aware of: new home, new baby, getting in trouble, starting school etc. Dreams can wake them with anxiety.
  6. If you live with another adult take turns to get up to the child – take every second night – then at least you are both getting a good sleep a few nights every week.
  7. What if you have two children waking in the night? If safe to do so, and you have a big bed and side rails – and you have not been drinking alcohol or are impaired in any way –  it can be good to take them on a sleepover into your bed on occasion. This could mean you all get to sleep till morning, or at least the early hours.
  8. Try not to focus on how little sleep you get. Remember that a lot of parents are in the same situation. Think about how you might be able to incorporate opportunities for sleep into your own routine. If you travel on public transport, perhaps take a nap on the bus or train; or have one in the morning at home if your child is at creche or school. Explore if anyone can mind your child once a week for a few hours during which you can look forward to some sleep; for example, arranging rotating play dates with another parent.
  9. Build some positives into your day. For example, look forward to some nice breakfast to give yourself a boost to get going. Something like fruit and yoghurt doesn’t have to cost much or take a lot of time to prepare. When we are really tired, we can feel somewhat low, especially if we’re parenting alone without many opportunities to plan for some sleep for ourselves; so it’s very important to actively build in these little positives to our routine.
  10. Support your child to sleep well by following a bedtime routine and providing them with a restful space. What is the room like that they sleep in? Do they like it? Do they have cuddly teddies they have a good bond with during the day? Have they a night light? Is it a calm, secure, peaceful area?

Along with this post, you might like to also read ‘10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine.’

’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie. Find out more about our parenting programmes here.

Image credit: Pixabay

Parenting | Ten Ways to Incorporate Outdoor Play

outdoorsResearch tells us over and over again how valuable the outdoors is for us all. However how often do we really go outdoors, other than just getting to the car or catching a bus? Although the Autumn/Winter seasons can be a little harsh, children still love the outdoors at this time of year.

Children learn so much from being outdoors. They can climb and jump much more freely; they can get dirty and have fun! Outdoor play can really support a parent’s wellbeing too. Most adults would acknowledge that going for a walk increases their wellbeing and helps them deal with any challenges they may face.

This Winter, see if you can introduce some outdoor play to your children’s lives. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Go for a nature walk. Every part of Ireland allows you to access a field or park of some sort. Take yourself and your children for a walk to see what nature has to offer. Collect leaves and berries, nuts and cones. Make a project of it, if you wish, when you return home. Help them identify the different leaves and the nuts and cones that match each tree. Talk with them about what berries you can eat and which ones are just for the birds.
  2. Bird Watch. There are many lakes and water ways around the country which are great for bird watching. You can join an organised group or just visit the library and get some idea of the birds in your area. Make it a treasure hunt to see how many you can spot in the one afternoon. Most children are fascinated by nature. Bird Watch Ireland has great resources and often organise free family-friendly events around the country, as do Bat Conservation Ireland and many other wildlife and environmental organisations.
  3. Take a picnic and practice some mindfulness. Having hot chocolate while sitting in a field or near a lake or river is very healing. Children again can feel very relaxed and often talk more openly with you about any challenges they may have. Home offers a lot of distractions to you both.
  4. Visit a local forest. Children love the leisure of walking through forests and not having to hold hands with an adult all the time. Children enjoy their freedom and it is crucial they have these opportunities as they grow. Allow them climb up hills and roll back down. Allow them dig and collect treasure. The things that fascinate them most are likely to have arose the same feelings in you once upon a time.
  5. Make it social. Often when we plan days out and play dates they involve indoor activities which can cost a lot of money. Why not take a ball to the park? Go cycling? You can hire bikes in many forests and parks. Take a kite, the weather is here! Blow bubbles.
  6. Become an artist. What could be more therapeutic and fun than taking the sketch pads and markers to a lovely spot outdoors. Ask your children to draw what they see. It doesn’t matter what age they are, they will attempt this. You can then talk about what you see and maybe have some new art work to pass onto family for Christmas or to hang in your home.
  7. In the garden. How many gardens are left idle all winter? Once the grass stops growing we can feel our work is done till next spring. If you have access to a garden, encourage your children to spend time outside there every day. When children go outside and run about freely they can burn off vast amounts of energy. If you keep them indoors all day you may have more troublesome behaviours, as they find it hard to use up the stores of energy indoors. Often when they come back in, they settle into some quiet time and things can run a lot smoother.
  8. Walk. Do you really need to take the car or bus so much? Look at where you can introduce some extra walking, even simply getting off the bus one stop earlier. Try it out for a few weeks. Children will become more energetic as they get used to it. You may have to allow some extra time to get to where you are going, but it will be worth it. Children will become healthier and fitter, and most likely will have fewer colds over the winter months. Just wrap up snug and warm.
  9. Make it social. Organise to meet up with friends in the park. You can have a chance for a chat with other adults while your children enjoy being with some other children. And you won’t have to tidy up the house when  go home. Surely this is enough of an incentive to meet and play outdoors! Visit a pet farm together and maybe see Santa outdoors this year, as opposed to crowded shopping centres. Even if your child is terrified of Santa, as some can be, they will enjoy the outdoors.
  10. Finally, mostly my experience is that adults don’t like outdoor play and generally feel that the outdoors poses a risk. I would ask you to challenge this concept this coming winter. Winter can be the most fun time to be outdoors. Try it and share with us on Facebook what you discover.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Join our new One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that everyone is welcome to join. You could post questions and share your experiences, and take part in a live weekly Q&A with Geraldine.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting | Supporting your children through shared parenting

divorce-156444_1280According to The United Nations Rights of the Child, it is the right of the child to have contact with both parents after parental separation; yet many parents see it as their right, as parents, to have contact with their child.

When it comes to contact with children, mums can hold the power from day one: they carry the baby for nine months so straight away they make the very first decisions about the baby. All too easily, fathers can take a back seat in parenting and when a separation occurs they can struggle to assert their position as an involved father. So many separated fathers, whom I work with, want to be hands-on fathers. Men are as capable as women but culturally we are often led to believe they are not.

It is not good for children to see two parents without equal status. If society doesn’t encourage fathers to play an active role in parenting then we are not allowing children the full opportunities they are entitled to: the right to both parents provided it is safe for the child.

We need to separate out poor partners from poor parents: it is a different relationship. Children only have two biological parents; allowing them every opportunity to have a relationship with both parents is important to the positive outcome of their lives. Here we offer ’10 ways’ to support your child through shared parenting:

  1. Explore what prevents you from allowing the other parent to have an active parenting role. Is this a genuine concern based upon facts or an opinion you have formed? Does your child feel safe and happy with the other parent? Try to follow their lead. Take small steps to try and build confidence in their ability.
  2. Start with small steps changes in contact. Talk with your child about what they would like to happen.
  3. Reassure your child that you trust that their other parent loves them and therefore you want both parents to be active in their life.
  4. Ask the other parent to do practical things to support parenting rather than only getting involved for the fun parts.
  5. Allow them to have opportunities to take children to and from school, to the doctor, the dentist and to after-school activities. Your child only has one life, it does not need to be separated into mum’s time and dad’s time.
  6. Share practical information with the other parent about your child’s development and everyday life. Know what stage your child is at. Don’t expect to be told everything, find things out for yourself, ask questions, read up on child development and talk to the school if you are a legal guardian.
  7. Pay your maintenance and don’t argue over the cost of raising a child. If you receive maintenance be realistic about what the other parent can afford. If you were parenting in the same home you would do everything you possibly could to ensure your child has what they need. It cannot be any different just because you parent separately.
  8. Buy what your child needs and not what you want to buy for your child. It is always lovely to treat children but not when it means they have no winter coat. Talk with the other parent about what the child has and what they need.
  9. Ask your family to respect your child’s other parent. They are, and always will be, the parent of your child. Children need to know that family respect their parents. It is not healthy for the extended family to hold prejudice over parents.
  10. If you are finding it really difficult to allow your child have a relationship with their other parent, seek professional support to explore the reasons for this. There is obviously a lot of hurt and I am not dismissing this in anyway but if you can move on you will allow your child to have positive experiences.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Join the One Family Parenting Group online here

 

Parenting | Supporting your child when they can only see failures

success-1123017_1920Success and failure starts at a very young age for us all; starting with learning to crawl and walk, we constantly deal with successes and failures throughout our lives: passing exams, getting onto the team, winning medals, getting a place in college, securing a job, etc.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking to see your child hurt because they think that they have failed. How can we protect our children when we see them suffering? Here are ’10 ways’ to support your child when they suffer the setback of perceived failure:

  1. The first step should be to sit with them and listen without judgement. All you can do is listen and name the feelings and clarify what you are hearing. Help them to make sense of what is happening. Help them to see the picture more clearly and allow them to make their own plan. By wrapping your child up in cotton wool you are disarming them instead of making them stronger. Life will have many challenges for them so you must help them to see and believe that they do not have to face them alone.
  2. Look at what went wrong. Explore the choices they made and why they thought that choice was the right one for them. Empower them to come up with new plans. How could they do it differently next time?
  3. Older children do not want their parents to protect them, they often want to fend for themselves. However, if they suffer a knock to their confidence, you need to recognise when to step back in and help restore their confidence. Reassure them that family is there for them.
  4. Talk to them about the need to develop coping skills. Help them to identify the skills they need to cope with the stresses of life. Life will throw many challenges at them from relationships to college, exams and the workplace.
  5. As parents, we have to explore how we see things. Do we ourselves look at life as a series of successes and failures?
  6. We need to explore how we cope with really stressful times. Do we talk about it and ask for help or do we close down. Help your children to see from a very young age that talking it out is always helpful.
  7. If you are really concerned for their wellbeing, you may have to insist on them visiting a GP or counsellor. Getting professional support can be a good choice. Many young people may see counselling as an American concept from television. Talk to them about the benefits of getting support from the right professionals and that they need not feel any stigma attached with engaging in services. Jigsaw provides free, confidential mental health support for young people aged 12-25.
  8. It is important to always actively listen to our children. Hear what they are saying, get to know them and how they think. Allow them talk and tell their stories. This will support them to come to you when they are older. If you consistently jump in and tell them what to do they may choose not to come to you as they grow older. If you don’t know there is a problem how can you help? You are always the best person for your child to come to.
  9. We must teach our children that life is actually not about success and failure but about trying our best, learning and trying again. Do not give up.
  10. When there are such challenges going on for a child, a teen or young adult, it is really important to look after yourself. Talk with family and seek professional support for yourself so you can stay strong and be there for your child. Remember, parenting your child starts with parenting yourself.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

Parenting | Parenting an adult child who won’t grow up

reading-1142801_1920What should you do if you have an adult child who thinks that they are all grown up but keeps lapsing into childish behaviours? It can be difficult to know what the issue is. If you treat them like a child does this encourage them to behave like one? Or, do they fall into the safety net of childhood because they are not ready to take the leap into full adulthood. When your child turns 18 they no longer require hands-on care. You need to empower them to grow up. Examine your behaviour. Are you enabling them to act like a child? As a parent your ultimate goal is to support your child to grow up and become a responsible adult.

Here are ’10 ways to’ support an adult child who lives with you to mature into a responsible adult:

  1. Firstly, ask yourself are you too involved in your adult child’s life. Are you still calling them in the mornings? Are you still doing all the cooking? Are you still asking them to tidy up? Are you still telling them what to do? Are you commenting on what they watch? Are you commenting on their friends or relationships? Are you commenting on what they wear? If you answered yes to most of these then I would suggest that you are too involved in your adult child’s life.
  2. If your adult child needs to continue to live with you, past the age of 18, then it is important to put some ground rules in place. To some extent you can treat your adult child like a roommate now and not like your child. Agree some principles of sharing a home – keep them simple – base them around respect and love.
  3. Paying rent is crucial, even if it is only a small amount. Agree on the use of space. Agree on the use of materials in the home, such as TV, computers and the washing machine. Agree on a roster of cooking and buying groceries.
  4. If you are parenting a younger child and have an adult child living with you it is really important to have an environment of harmony for the child. Try not to allow your relationship with your adult child impact negatively on your younger child. You are the only one who can protect their environment.
  5. Younger siblings usually hugely admire their older adult siblings. Living with them can help them develop close, long lasting and meaningful relationships. If you can have a positive relationship with your adult child your younger child will benefit too.
  6. Ask them to respect the needs of their younger siblings but do not expect your adult child to be a parent to their siblings. Of course they will look out for them and spend time with them but they will not be interested in babysitting, school pickups and homework. This is your role as a parent. Often we expect too much parenting support from our young adult children.
  7. If you feel you and your adult child are at the battle gates all the time, try to sit with them and tell them how much you love them. Talk about the fun things you did when they were little. Talk about what they are doing now and what their plans are. Talk with them about how you would like to support them in the next few years to reach their goals.
  8. Tell your adult child if you need some support from them. Talk to them like an adult, stop talking to them like a child. Think it out and communicate in a clear and direct way. No threats! You cannot discipline them.
  9. Make a date with your adult child every other week and check in with them. Do not expect that they will check in with you each day. Trust that they are doing okay. You can text them whenever you want but sending a text should not mean you have to get one back. Respect their privacy and ask them to respect yours.
  10. Be honest if it is not working and set a timeline for them to move out. Move into a new chapter of parenting. Let go. It is not about control. It is about loving and being there for each other.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212

Parenting | Talking to Grandparents about Childminding

window-932760_640Many parents have relied upon grandparents’ support to raise their children, both now and in the past. Their help can relieve pressure in many cases. However, in some cases it can also increase the pressure. Parents can feel gratitude to grandparents for their time and efforts but if they cannot speak honestly with them, for fear of upsetting them and losing their valuable help, this can lead to challenging relationships between parents and grandparents. With childcare options so few, due to costs, parents need grandparents more than ever.

What can parents and grandparents do to support each other in the care of children? Here are ’10 ways to’ ensure happy, positive relationships between parents, grandparents and children:

  1. The first step in this relationship is to establish it in a business-like way. Keep it a little different to when you call to visit grandparents. Agree the days and times.
  1. Raise the issue of money. Do not assume that grandparents will care for children for free. They may not want to be paid but they may not want to be out of pocket either.
  2. Agree on what children are allowed to eat. Will you provide meals and snacks or will you give money for the cost of the food?
  3. Respect the days and times you agree upon. Do not be late. You would not be late for a minder outside of the family so show the same regard for grandparents.
  4. Grandparents have other things to do. When extra days come up look for other options. Do not expect grandparents to step in all of the time.
  5. Reward grandparents as much as you can: have them over for dinner; take them places; sit with them when you know they need company; remember birthdays and key dates; buy them a cake or flowers when they least expect it. People like to feel valued, just because they are family doesn’t mean you don’t need to thank them.
  6. Talk with grandparents about behaviour. At times grandparents can be too strict and at times too lenient. Talk with them about what you do. Help them to plan for challenging days. Sit the children down with the grandparents and talk openly about what will happen when there are behavioural challenges. Do not leave grandparents to work it out alone and then complain about how they do it. Support them.
  7. Grandparents often give sweet treats and this is fine occasionally but when they are in the role of childminder they will need to provide healthy food. Talk with them about how it will affect the children’s energy for school, for homework, for play, for sleep. Grandparents want what is best for children as much as you do. Help them put rewards in place that are simple and easy to follow. Help children to know that, on the days grandparents are in charge, they do not get the same treats as on visits with grandparents.
  8. Grandparents will need days off. Ask them to give you notice so you can find alternative childcare options. Talk about holidays in advance and work out your own leave around grandparents’ own plans.
  9. It takes a lot of people to raise a child. It is very important to make friends and to get to know other parents in order to build up a network. The only way to work and parent is to have a variety of options around childcare. There will be times it will cost more when the key people cannot help out, but this is the joy of parenting. Children will grow-up and one day childcare will no longer be an issue.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212

 

Parenting | Communicating with Your Child about Family ‘Secrets’

secretsThere can be a lot of ‘secrets’ in some families, such as health or relationship issues, that family members simply do not speak about or refer to. At times children don’t know the content of the secret, they just know it is something they don’t talk or ask about.

Do you remember what it was like for you as a child to have a secret? If it was your fun secret to have, that could be great! If, however, it was a secret in your family – something hidden or hushed – it probably often left you feeling very confused and with many questions. Children can carry this as a heavy burden. They may ask people outside of your family to help them understand, or they may never ask yet listen intently to adult conversations for a clue as to what is going on.

This week in our ’10 Ways’ parenting tips series, we explore how the types of secrets that parents tell can cause challenges within their families, and how to communicate openly with children about them.

  1. Many parents, when they separate or leading up to a separation, try to keep it secret for a length of time. Children may find this very challenging. It would be better if children had permission from parents to talk about what is going on at home with close friends and family if they wished to. It can be hard at times like this for children to talk with parents, when they can see how upset parents may be.
  2. Children who don’t know one of their parents can have great curiosity around this. It may be a secret as to who the parent is; maybe the child is told fairy tales to explain where they came from. However, children are clever. They know they have two parents and leaving them without this information can lead to great confusion and identity challenges. Also it can create challenges in the playground as other children may see them as an easy target for bullying. Children usually want to be the same as every other child. They need information to feel confident about their family form.
  3. Children who are adopted often don’t know this to be the case, even though other family members will know. Children always tell other children what they know about them. It doesn’t take much in a small community for children to overhear stories about class mates. Telling children the truth about where they came from and who their family is equips them for a more confident passage through childhood.
  4. When there is abuse of any form in the home, addiction issues, or mental health problems, it can leave children confused and worried. It is really important that one parent can help a child to understand what is going on in their family. Children need permission to talk with trusted adults about things that worry them, be they other family members or child and family support professionals. It is okay for them to ask about why parents fight, to ask why one parent may stay in bed a lot, or what death is.
  5. Try to adopt a policy in your home of talking, voicing concerns and sharing worries with trusted people. Don’t ask children to keep things a secret. Don’t tell them not to talk about certain things. Share with them what is appropriate about their family life.
  6. So many times children have told me that they know the truth about something in their family but that their parent doesn’t know they do, or they don’t want to upset their parent by telling them that they know. Give them support or ask someone in your family or circle of friends to help them to understand.
  7. Children need to be free to grow, to live and to laugh. Holding onto so many secrets can only impede their journey through childhood. Think about what secrets your family holds and what this may be like for your child.
  8. Try to talk with them, be open about the difficult, awkward or sensitive issues that exist. Often once you start talking, these issues are no longer as big as they seemed.
  9. Once children have age appropriate levels of information, they will not be as inclined to worry and they will feel safer. Children are resilient once they are equipped with what they need.
  10. Trust is the foundation of positive relationships. Build your relationship based on trust and you will not go wrong.

Next you might like to read Talking to Your Children about Your Family.

This week’s ‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie. Join our Facebook parenting group.

Parenting | Why do parents and children fight?

planHow many parents argue with their child on a daily basis? If you find yourself arguing with your children then you need to press pause and re-examine what is going wrong.

Parents can get into power struggles with very young children. It can start from toddler time when parents are unable or unclear about how to set appropriate boundaries with children and then they start to wonder who is in charge.

Setting boundaries and clear rules with children from infancy is the key to parenting successfully. Parents must assert themselves in their role as the parent. Children must understand from a very young age that the parent must take the lead. Of course, it’s also important to listen to children, to ask them what they think, what they need, what they want and how they see things working. You must involve them in decisions made in the family.

Here are our ’10 ways’ to help resolve these issues:

  1. Identify the key issue you have. Sit with your child and tell them what the issue is.
  2. Ask them what they think and how they feel about it. You can work with children in this way from as young as three years old. Never underestimate children.
  3. Hear what your child has to say about the issue and tell them what you would like to see happen.
  4. Ask them to come up with ideas of how you can work together to solve the issue. Children will have a lot to say when they feel safe to express themselves. Give them permission to say what they would like.
  5. Be open and creative about their ideas. Don’t just shoot them down or they will not see the point in expressing their opinion. Remember children should be active participants in their lives. Make sure they know you value what they have to say.
  6. Facilitate them to come up with plans and ideas. You may have to use games or art work to help them talk and express feelings. Once children become familiar with this style of parenting they will get better at it. What a great life skill you will be teaching them.
  7. When all the ideas are on the table, agree a plan, write it down or draw pictures to show the plan if children are very young. Then put the plan up somewhere so everyone can see it.
  8. Everyone in the family should have a part to play in the plan. You as the parent are the person in charge of ensuring the plan is implemented. You need to find ways to support children to follow through on their part of the plan.
  9. You need to find ways to support yourself to follow through too. Remember you are in this position because you find it hard to make rules and stick with them so finding ways to stick with the plan is key to role modelling for your child. Both you and your children will be delighted when you resolve issues together.
  10. If you start with something small that you can be successful in this will support you to look at the next issue and develop more plans together. If your child is under 3 years old and you feel you cannot involve them in this type of process, you can still work through many of the issues yourself. Draw out a map of what is wrong and write down all the ideas you come up with. Explore your needs, the child’s needs and then come up with plans to meet the needs. Put some rules in place for yourself to help you stick with it. Making changes can be hard and parenting in this way if you are not familiar with this style will take time, but if you stick with it you will see positive changes.

This week’s ‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie

Parenting | Explore Family Routines

plannerA new year has arrived and with it, an ideal opportunity to explore family routines. Following consistency in routines supports parenting and increases your child’s sense of well-being and security. It is as a good time as ever to continue to consider your family’s routines and any changes you would like to make.

The following are our ’10 way’ parenting tips on how to approach reviewing the routines you have in place and looking at new ways to incorporate routines as your child grows:

  1. Think about how and why routines are useful.  Maintaining clear routines in the home supports children’s well being in many ways. Children like to know what to expect in the form of activities and behaviours. Routine helps us as parents too, and can increase harmony in the home, reduce stress and increase productivity and a sense of achievement and connection.
  2. Children usually have a very clear routine from birth around feeding, sleeping and nappy time. Sometimes as our children grow we rigidly continue with routines in these areas but often times we don’t. Think about what routines you currently follow.
  3. Explore any parts of the day when you have a good routine in place that works for all, for example, perhaps the getting to school schedule flows perfectly every morning. What does this do for you and your children? Do you find that things run smoother at these times and everyone gets on well?
  4. What happens at the times you don’t have a clear routine in place, for example, perhaps the homework routine? What impact does this have? Children and parents can get confused, frustrated or anxious when we don’t know what to expect which can lead to challenging behaviours.
  5. It is important to have consistent routines around not only eating and sleeping and practical schedules, but around behaviours also.
  6. It is your job to implement the routine, but your children need to know and understand it. Talk with children about routines and how they help. Allow them have a voice in what works and doesn’t work for them.
  7. As seasons change and children grow, routines will change too. Be open to this change. If a plan is not working, even if it used to, then stop doing it. Review it with your children, build on it and make a new plan. As the parent, ensure you follow through.
  8. Some people very much resist routine. Explore why this is the case. Think about what your child needs. Most children need security and this can often be achieved through clear routines. Following routines does not mean you have to be rigid; you can be flexible, but ensure your child knows why a change in the routine is occurring. Some children do well with change and others do not.
  9. Think about your own life, separate to being a parent. What routines are in place for you? What happens when you can’t follow the routine? Sometimes it means your needs are not met, which in turns affects how you are, how you can cope, and how you parent.
  10. Talk with your children about routines this week. What is working now and what doesn’t work so well? Agree some new routines for 2016 and then look back later in the year to see how they have hopefully helped to improve happiness and harmony in your home.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Our LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine will be back shortly. Join our One Family Parenting group to keep up to date.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email us.

 

Parenting | Parent Self-Care

parent self careThis week’s ’10 Ways’ offers tips about you looking after you. Especially at Christmas time, parents can become frazzled with all the organising and preparations. It is important to try and carve out even a small bit of time for yourself to recharge the batteries and ensure you enjoy Christmas time too. Read on for our ‘10 Ways to Parent Self-Care’.

  1. “I’m not perfect, I’m good enough” (Winnicot): Recognise that you are one person and you are doing the best you can. Give yourself a pat on the back – don’t wait for someone else or your child to or it may never happen!
  2. Routine: Have a core routine for each day of the week and stick to it. Don’t try to get everything done every day, set days out for different chores. Make sure you have time in the routine to play and interact with your children. Parents usually feel better when they have had a quality connection with their child.
  3. Eat: Remember you must meet your own needs so you can meet those of your children. The basic need to eat is really important as when we are hungry we are less inclined to have patience and the energy to deal with everyday issues and challenges.
  4. Sleep: It is easy to say sleep but it is more important to do it. Try to get children to bed early so you can be in bed early too. Aim for at least 6 hours sleep per night. Those with infants will only achieve this in a number of sessions of sleep so it is really important to try and nap during the day if you can.
  5. Stay healthy: Do not neglect your health – value your own health and well being as much as you do your child’s.
  6. Exercise: This can release the happy hormones and allow you time to think, reflect and make plans, or just breathe in the fresh air and tell yourself it will all work out. You can also use the time to chat with your child. Simply playing in the park or back garden can be good exercise and fun with your child also.
  7. Take time out for yourself: If you struggle with this, begin with 10 minutes for yourself and as time goes on, increase it. Maybe once a week you can plan a couple of hours to yourself. Be creative in how you achieve this – it will be worth the effort.
  8. Socialise: Isolation is a key issue for those parenting alone. Challenge yourself to network with other parents, join clubs or courses. Your self-esteem and confidence and that of your child’s will be enhanced with socialising.
  9. Ask for help: Ask for help whenever you can from family or a friend. They will stop offering if you never take them up on it. Children enjoy being with other people. It is good for you both to have time apart and for children to know there are other people who can care for them.
  10. Be an adult: You are not just a parent so make time for you to be you. It’s good for children to see you as a person with many roles, not just as Mam or Dad.

Read other articles from our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Join Geraldine, our parenting expert, on Facebook on this and other parenting topics for a weekly Q&A live in our One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email us.